Between the Panels – Batman Annual #1 and Grim Leaper Issue 1

The title this week is a bit of a misnomer, I’m just to lazy to change it, I’m going to be reviewing Grim Leaper before Batman Annual. I’m thrilled to talk about both of these books for two very different reasons, Grim Leaper because Kurtis J. Wiebe is a great author with some solid work already published (Green Wake and Peter Panzerfaust for example) and Batman Annual because Scott Snyder has so far put out some of the best Batbooks I’ve read in a long time (check out The Black Mirror Hard Cover Collection) and he is now taking on one of my favourite Rouges, Mr Freeze. So without further ado let’s go Between the Panels. (For the record I know that was super cheese, but I had to say it, it seemed right)

WARNING: PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THESE COMICS THIS POST MAY CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS OF THE COMICS BEING REVIEWED!

Comic: Grim Leaper: A Love Story to Die For Issue 1

Publisher: Image Comics

Authors: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artist: Aluisio C. Santos

 As I said before Kurtis J. Wiebe is a spectacular comic author, over the last few months reading his work he has easily become one of my favourite writers right now. I actually got a chance to meet and talk with him at the Calgary Expo that happened in Calgary in April, he’s a really down to earth guy who genuinely loves comics. It was really great getting to meet the author behind some of my favourite books. Anyway that’s enough of that, on to Grim Leaper: A Love Story to Die For.

The book starts off with a man attending a funeral, much to his dislike it seems as he reveals he is not a fan of funerals in the first panel. He goes into the funeral and finds an attractive girl and tries hitting on her, which fails terribly, he then reveals that the funeral he’s attending is his own. Lou has been cursed, how he does not know, that every time he dies he comes back in another body, usually not long after, he dies again, and wakes up in a hallway filled with pictures, one of them comes to life, swallows him whole and spits him back out in that pictures body. He has no idea why this curse has been placed upon him but there has to be a reason. After the funeral he gets decapitated by a 18 wheelers tire flying towards him. He comes back as a contestant on a show called Take A Leap and almost immediately is thrown out of the building. He ends up in a cafe where he meets a girl who he discovers has the same curse as he does, they quickly bond over it, he manages to save her once from a bus but fails a second time as she falls into a man-hole. In the last word bubble Lou reveals to us that he thinks he’s in love.

After the main bulk of the story there is a 5 page short written by Joey Esposito: “More Love Stories to Die For” about a man and woman who see each other every day during the morning commute but are always separated by a hybrid between them. They are both madly in love with each other and just want to meet, so they go through each and every day just so they can see each other briefly in their commute the next morning. They end up meeting and at the end of the short in a rather hilarious way. Definitely a nice little treat at the end of this twisted love story.

I really enjoyed Grim Leaper issue 1, the story is clever and I’m excited to see where it goes in its run. The art was really cool to say the least, it was cartoony but not over the top, it was more of a dark cartoony look to it, very fitting for the style of story being told.

Grim Leaper: A Love Story to Die For Issue 1: 7.5/10

 

***

Comic: Batman Annual #1

Publisher: DC Comics

Authors: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

Artists: Jason Fabok and Peter Steigerwald

I can sum up my entire review of Batman Annual in one phrase: “Wow, that was spectacular.”

Batman Annual:

Kidding, I’ll keep going, but in all reality that is all you need to know about this issue. It was spectacular. Just when I thought Scott Snyder had wowed me as much as he could with his back to back storylines or The Black Mirror and now the Night of the Owls story, he does it again, but better than he has so far. This Annual takes place during the Night of the Owls but doesn’t have too much to do with what was going on during that night, the only real connection between Mr Freeze and the Court is that he created the serum that awoke the various Talons in order to strike Gotham during the Night.

The story starts and ends with the story of Victor as a child, him and his mother are taking part in a snow man building contest, a tragedy occurs which, at the end of the comic, ends with his mother having memory lapses and being in a wheel chair. This issue goes so much into Mr Freeze’s back story and it does so beautifully, showing all the tragedy behind it and showing what has driven Victor Fries to become Mr Freeze. This comic may be a Batman Annual but what you are getting is one of the most interesting characters back story and showing him in his element.

This issue broke my heart multiple times, first when we see young Victor’s mother fall into the ice at the opening of the book then again near the end when it is reveled that Victor’s love, his wife Nora, is not truly his wife, but a woman from 1940’s who went into chryo so that a heart disease she had contracted would not kill her, she would wait until medicine had gone far enough to revive her (Victor’s serum that awakens the Talons) and to correct the heart problem. This was Freezes main objective in this story, to revive Nora with the serum and get her the surgery she so desperately needed. Once more the Annual broke my heart at the end of the book, during the last part of Victor and his mother at, what I assume to be, the next year’s snow man competition, when she is in the wheel chair and Young Victor does something drastic to resolve the issue of his mother’s disability.

Jason Fabok’s art shines in this issue, he is playing around in a world that he can create so vividly. He seems completely at home with every panel he draws, from the intimate moments between Victor and his mother and the big action sequences there is not a point where Fabok’s art is not doing exactly what it needs to.

As I said before, “Wow, that was spectacular.”

Batman Annual #1: 9/10

***

Man, that got rather wordy didn’t it? These are two great comics that are worth your money and your time to read. Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments below. I’ll try my best to not be so long-winded next week, no promises though. For more reviews of this weeks new comics head over to IGN for their weekly round-up. Life happens between the panels folks, so live out every moment.

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Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nait93.

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