Judgement Day by Alan Moore.
Great idea for a story built around the question of who would judge a superhero if they were accused of killing another superhero. It also had a fun retro vibe to it with historical flashbacks told in the style of the comics of that individual decade.
Essentially Moore's story is a criticism of the massively abused practice of retconning comic universes that's swept through comics in recent years.
The Groo Odyssey by Sergio Aragone.
What is there to say? It's got Groo, cheese dip, frays and Rufferto. "What do you mean "slow of mind?'"
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland.
I've been interested in reading this since I read that Heath Ledger had based his Joker in part on the Joker in this book. In this story the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum and embarks on a mission to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.
I have a feeling that the images in this story were probably much more controversial at the time it was first released in the 80's. In particular there's a sequence in which the Joker breaks into Gordon's apartment and shoots and tortures Barbara Gordon. Compared to the hyper-violent scenes depicted in today's comics this sequence, while disturbing, seems almost quaint.
We3 by Grant Morrison.
Arkonbey wrote a positive review of this a couple of months ago and it's been on my mental checklist to read ever since. It a terrific premise involving laboratory animals that have been surgically altered to be military killing machines. The protagonists; a dog, a cat and a rabbit, escape from the lab and head on a trek to get "home." It's "Homeward Bound" if the the cute animals were able to rip you limb from limb without working up a sweat.
There's a lot to love about this story but the thing that tickled me the most is that the animals have rudimentary oral communication skills due to their implants/ training. With just a few lines of dialog Morrison is able to convey the animal's personality to a remarkable degree. The dog is the protector of the group that wants them to stick together. The cat doesn't want to take orders and would rather strike out on his own. The rabbit just wants everybody to get along.
If I had any criticism it would be that the artwork, while excellent, is sometimes confusing making it difficult to understand what's going on. This is usually a cardinal sin with me with comics but this thing is so damned good that it's worth overlooking this minor faux paux.
Batman: Joker's Asylum by Arvid Nelson.
This could be summed up as "Tales from the Crypt starring the Joker." It's an anthology series focusing a short story on several Batman villains including the Joker, the Penguin, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow. Each of these villain's stories is introduced by the Joker from his cell at Arkham Asylum.
These stories are excellent with just the right creepy tone running through them. I was especially moved by the Penguin/ Chester Copperpot tale in which he buys a young woman from slavery and raises her like a daughter. There's a real sense of menace underlying the Penguin's kind overtures towards this woman with a suitably dark ending to the whole thing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future For You by Joss Whedon.
Whedon's Buffy season 8 comics are well worth reading for a couple of reasons. The first is that many of the writers including Whedon himself who wrote for the series are writers on these books. The other is that we get a more imaginative version of the Buffyverse since they're unconstrained by network or budget concerns.
In this collection of stories several old friends show up including Faith. As a fan of the series I found myself hearing the actors voices when reading this which is a sign of good storytelling.
By twist of fate I had two similar books without pictures arrive out of my holds at the same time. Both involved American warships travelling back in time.
Destroyermen: Into the Storm by Taylor Anderson.
Out of the two books this was the one I was most interested in. During a WW 2 Pacific battle a WW 1 era steam destroyer is thrown back in time. I made it two chapters. It was a good premise that fell apart once the crew was back in time and the giant sailing ship full of lizard people showed up. Oy.
Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham.
This story begins in the year 2021 with a U.S. led international battlegroup preparing to attack an islamic caliphate in the Pacific when they're thrust back to the year 1942 during the battle of Midway.
I almost quit this book after the first chapter as well. The characters were paper thin and the set up for time travel perfunctory. The book was written in 2002 so Birmingham made some interesting assumptions (the flagship of the fleet is the "USS Hillary Clinton" named after our first female president) but also some lame assumptions (the first female vice president was Condi Rice. Yeeeechh!)
I decided to at least give the book the chance of seeing how he handles this modern fleet fighting WW 2 era navies with their lack of satellites, missiles, computers and everything that signifies modern navies. I'm glad I held out to see what happens.
I had assumed this book would be like Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South series where modern weapons find their way back in time, in that case the civil war, and have a grand affect on the outcome of that conflict. That's true in a way with Weapons of Choice but in this case the sleek warships with their AI are only the second most dangerous thing the modern navy brings back. The ideas they represent are a bigger threat to the world of the 40s and not just to the Axis powers.
Imagine the WW 2 era U.S. navy and it's lack of racial integration having to deal with a modern U.S. navy with female officers, service men and women of all races and sexual orientations. How would intergrating these navies strategically work? We take things for granted that took decades to change. How quickly could Admiral Spruance who led the Midway group deal with an African-American captain who happened to be a lesbian?
It's a fascinating book in true sci-fi form that forces you to think about things we take for granted. Well worth reading.
-- Dean Wormer