Thematic Recs: The Batman Family

(One day, I will probably do a Thematic Recs post for superhero comics in general. This is not that day.) I love the Bat-family. My love for it knows (almost) no bounds, and this list compiles some of my favourite titles so far – though I’ve probably missed some great ones, as I certainly haven’t read the whole lot!

And for the record, I consider basically all the Gotham-centric heroes to be part of the Bat-family in some small way, so long as they are – or have at some point been – acknowledged by Bruce Wayne, the original Batman.

Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon//Batgirl: Year One1) Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. A mini-series chronicling the beginnings of the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I only read this on a whim, but I ended up really loving it, much to my surprise – I’ve never been a huge Barbara Gordon fan.

Peter J. Tomasi//Batman & Robin vol. 12) Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi. The only series on my list since the New 52 rebooted the DC universe (though I do still like some of the other New 52 titles…). This series shows Bruce Wayne teaming up with his son Damian (the fifth Robin), and having to find a balance between fatherhood and crime-fighting.

[This series is collected in seven volumes: Born to KillPearlDeath of the FamilyRequiem for DamianThe Big BurnThe Hunt for Robin and Robin Rises.]

Bryan Q. Miller//Batgirl vol. 13) Batgirl by Bryan Q. Miller. Probably my favourite comic series, this run of Batgirl follows Stephanie Brown, the third Batgirl, as she teams up with Barbara Gordon (now in the role of Oracle) in order to fight crime, and hopefully get some recognition from the Bat-family’s main players.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Batgirl RisingThe Flood and The Lesson.]

Paul Dini//Streets of Gotham vol. 14) Batman: Streets of Gotham by Paul Dini. A sadly short-lived series featuring Dick Grayson (the original Robin, now the new Batman) and Damian Wayne trying to deal with a Bruce Wayne-imposter in Bruce’s absence. The series ended up being cut short, but the storyline was wrapped up in the Batman Incorporated series.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Hush MoneyLeviathan and The House of Hush.]

Judd Winick//Under the Red Hood5) Batman: Under the Hood by Judd Winick. Bruce Wayne deals with a new, incredibly violent, vigilante in Gotham, who calls himself the Red Hood. This is one of my all-time favourite Batman storylines – the big mystery he has to figure out is the identity of the Red Hood (my favourite character in the DC universe, and an important figure from Bruce Wayne’s past). The animated film was also incredible (which was called Under the Red Hood, like the bind-up of the comics), though it presented a rather different backstory from the original comics.

Judd Winick//Red Hood: The Lost Days

+1) Red Hood: The Lost Days by Judd Winick. Just a little bonus recommendation, since this is a spin-off of the Under the Hood storyline, and serves as a prequel to it. It tells the story of the Red Hood’s time training, and his return to Gotham, and gives an interesting new perspective on the events in Under the Hood.

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The Reader Confession Tag

For once, I seem to be doing a tag that I was actually tagged for; remarkable, isn’t it? 😉 The tagger in question was Ariana from The Quirky Book Nerd – you should go ahead and read her great post, too!

1) Have you ever damaged a book?

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman//Good OmensNaturally, I do my best to keep my books in good condition, but accidents are bound to happen once in a while. My first copy of Good Omens got half drowned when I discovered that my backpack wasn’t anywhere near as waterproof as I’d previously thought it to be. And I don’t like to think about the time I had a mishap while bleeding my radiator, and drenched a whole shelf. 😥 (Don’t worry, I was able to salvage them!)

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Goblet of FireIn less watery news, my original copy of Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ended up completely falling to pieces, as well, though that was mostly from over-reading (and because it was the first massive hardback that I’d ever owned, and I had no idea that they fell apart if you didn’t take care of them. ^^’ ).

2) Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

I’m always super-careful with any books that people lend me – more careful than I am with my own books, even – but I will admit to occasionally (very occasionally) having dog-eared a library book or two… 😳 This is supposed to be a confession tag, after all!

3) How long does it take you to read a book?

I can usually finish an average-length book (about 300 pages) in two or three days, but it often depends on my mood, and how busy I am outside of my reading schedule…

4) Books that you haven’t finished?

Even when I’m really not enjoying a book, I prefer to finish it, in hopes of finding some redeeming factor, so there aren’t many books that I’ve DNF’d. Most of these I did actually like, but I just wasn’t in the right mood for them at the time – hopefully I’ll get round to finishing them reasonably soon, though! In order of priority, they are:

5) Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter MeThere have been a few that disappointed me a bit, but the only one I can think of that I actively disliked was the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, and even then I didn’t dislike everything about it. Just, you know, the abysmal plotline, and non-existent world-building. I wrote a series review for it a while ago, which you should definitely check out!

6) Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

I sometimes like to read trashy romances, and I’m always a little embarrassed afterwards to discuss them in my wrap-ups, but I don’t think I’d ever actively hide the fact that I was reading one… (Except from the kids I babysit. I will definitely be taking Something Else to read at theirs. ^^’ )

7) How many books do you own?

I have no idea, but between my physical books and my kindle books, probably somewhere between 300 and 500…

8) Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?

Pretty fast, I think, though nowhere near speed-reading standards. I usually get through two or three books in a week (depending on my mood, and the length of the book), but there’ve been times when I’ve finished a new book almost every day. (When I was in China, I read like a woman possessed. 😳 )

9) Do you like to buddy read?

Now and then. I’ve done a few readalongs with my friend Chloë (a.k.a. SSJTimeLord), and it’s fun to talk about the books as we’re going along, but unfortunately we don’t always have the time… :/

10) Do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head, definitely. I can even do character voices! (But just in my imagination.)

11) If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic

Frances Hodgson Burnett//The Secret GardenWhy do you torment me with such questions, Tag?!?! 😦 Probably my battered old copy of Street Magic by Tamora Pierce, because it’s my favourite book. Or else one of the Folio Society editions that my dad’s given me over the years (The Secret Garden has an inscription in it that I’m rather fond of)…

February Haul

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in...)

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in…)

Something else that I should’ve posted a while ago… :/ And as you can see from the lovely picture to your left, this post is certainly not late because I didn’t buy enough books to merit a haul post. Rather, it’s late because I’ve had to take a significant amount of time to recover from the shame of having bought so many (& most of them are comics, too, which are expensive). 😦 The reason for my sudden splurge? Chloë came to visit towards the end of the month, and when I am with other bookish people, I tend to go to lots of bookish places, and buy books. (Self-control? What is this “self-control” you speak of?)

But anyway, here’s what I bought:

1) Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. All I know about this is that it’s non-fiction (probably), which I’ve been wanting to read more of, and it was super-cheap, so I thought I’d give it a try.

2) Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey. Another non-fiction book (obviously), which I bought as part of the same deal. My historical knowledge is sorely lacking, so hopefully this will teach me a few things…

3) Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. I don’t even know what this is, but I couldn’t resist…

4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. A re-telling of Homer’s Iliad, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I have heard super-good things about it, and I am a Classicist… 😀

5) No Life but This by Anna Sheehan. A sci-fi (possibly romance?) novel that I found at the second-hand book stall at the market. Of course, only after buying it did I discover that it’s a sequel, but both books sound interesting, so I’ll have to track down the first book (A Long, Long Sleep) soon…

6) Sasameke, Volume 2 by Ryuji Gotsubo. This is actually a bind-up of the last half of the Sasameke series, which is a sports manga about a boy who was really, really good at football, then went away to play abroad for a year, and came back having given up the sport completely. It’s been a while since I read the first volume, so it probably merits a re-read, but I remember enjoying it a lot, & I’m looking forward to finishing off the series.

7) Little Red Riding Hood & Other Stories by Charles Perrault. A beautifully-illustrated edition of several classic fairytales, including Little Red Riding Hood (naturally), CinderellaBluebeard and Puss in Boots.

8) Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. A sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which I don’t know all that much about, plot-wise, though I’ve been aware of it for a while…

9) The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips. A comedy set in Arthurian times, about the Knights of the Round Table. Again, I don’t really know anything else about it.

10) Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri. A gender-swapped Adventure Time graphic novel, which I have already read and loved, so you can read about it in my February Wrap-Up.

11) Various DC New 52 comics, including: Volumes 2 & 3 of Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volume 3 of Red Hood & the Outlaws by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Nightwing by Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV; Batman: Night of the Owls by Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Tony S. Daniel, Scott Lobdell, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Gail Simone, Duane Swierczynski, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV & Judd Winick; and The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder, John Layman, Ann Nocenti, Adam Glass, James Tynion IV, Gail Simone, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Kyle Higgins, Tom DeFalco & Peter J. Tomasi. This impressive number of comics takes all the series on my buy-list through the Night of the Owls and Death of the Family storylines, and up to volume 3.

12) Saga, Volumes 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan. The first three volumes I got in a massive bind-up, which is that blue book labelled “Book 1”, and Volume 4 individually (because I couldn’t bring myself to wait another 3 years or so for the next deluxe edition). Again, I’ve already read this, & I talked about it in my wrap-up, but to sum it up, it’s a sci-fi series about forbidden love in wartime.

13) Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A graphic novel about a pride of lions that escape from Baghdad Zoo, which, again, I’ve talked about already in my wrap-up.

14) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A collection of folk-tales set in “Early Earth”, a place that apparently existed before actual Earth. And, once again, I’ve already read this, & I’ll tell you about it in my March wrap-up, so there’s (thankfully, since my fingers are getting tired now) no need to say any more about it here.

T5W: Anti-Heroes!

Anti-heroes: You love them, you hate them, you love-to-hate them, you hate-to-love-them (but mostly you love them). This week’s Top 5 Wednesday theme is one I’ve been pretty excited about, since I tend to gravitate towards anti-heroes. And for reference, this is what I consider an anti-hero to be:

Any hero or protagonist who displays traditionally villainous characteristics (e.g. Snape in the Harry Potter series); or any villainous character with heroic motivations, or with whom the audience is very clearly supposed to sympathise (e.g. Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Most anti-heroes walk the thin line between being heroes and being villains, and are often difficult to put into either category.

Unsurprisingly, it was a tough list to narrow down, so I’d like to start off with a few honourable mentions: Luke Castellan, from Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan; Rose Wilson (a.k.a. Ravager) from the DC Universe (but particularly as she was portrayed in Teen Titans); and Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, who I am liking more and more the further I get into Unravel Me.

But now onto the actual top 5!

Rory McCann as Sandor in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Rory McCann as Sandor in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

5) Sandor Clegane, a.k.a. the Hound (from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series)

Sandor is one of those characters who seems truly despicable upon first encounter, and he seems to always do his best to promote this idea of him. But the further you get into the series, the more he grows on you (and I, personally, am really anxious to see whether he’ll be showing up in The Winds of Winter). He’s not a main character in the series, and we never see things from his perspective, so most of the insights into his character are gleaned from his interactions with first Sansa, then Arya Stark, the former of whom is terrified of him (but possibly also in love with him), and the latter of whom despises him (but also feels a grudging respect towards him). So there’s a lot of mixed feelings there, but ultimately he’s one of my favourite characters in A Song of Ice & Fire.

Alan Rickman as Snape in the Harry Potter films.

Alan Rickman as Snape in the Harry Potter films.

4) Severus Snape (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Despite general adoration (which was certainly not discouraged when Alan Rickman was cast as him in the films), I hated Snape for a very long time. The combined powers of fandom and Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows eventually persuaded me to give him a chance, but it was still only very recently that I actually started to like him. Snape is probably the quintessential anti-hero, though: Every book leaves you more and more uncertain as to his loyalties and motivations, and the final reveal in book 7 was both shocking and heartbreaking.

Yassen as portrayed by Damian Lewis in the Stormbreaker film.

Yassen as portrayed by Damian Lewis in the Stormbreaker film.

3) Yassen Gregorovich (from the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz)

Yassen is a Russian assassin who shows up continuously throughout the early Alex Rider books, employed by the various villains that Alex is trying to take down. But although he’s usually just a side character, he’s the most memorable of all the villains in the series, and he probably also has the most character depth. We find out in Eagle Strike that Yassen actually had a history with Alex’s father, and this discovery has a profound affect on Alex’s outlook on things in the later books. Yassen was even the main character in the series’ prequel, Russian Roulette, and it was really great to get a deeper look into the backstory of one of the series’ most mysterious characters.

Shrike as seen on the official Philip Reeve site.

Shrike as seen on the official Philip Reeve site.

2) Shrike (from The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve)

Shrike is quite possibly one of my favourite characters of all time, ever. He’s a type of resurrected, half-corpse, half-machine soldier called a “Stalker”, and when he’s introduced in Mortal Engines, he’s working as a bounty hunter for the Mayor of London, and his targets are our two protagonists, Hestor and Tom. But it was really in the last couple of books that I grew to love Shrike, and the epilogue of A Darkling Plain utterly killed me. There’s a prequel series (Fever Crumb), too, which apparently features Shrike when he was still human, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet…

Jason as Robin.

Jason as Robin.

1) Jason Todd, a.k.a. Red Hood (from the DC Universe)

Ah, what to say about Jason? Except, of course, that he’s my favourite Batman character, and that I have basically stalked him through the DC Universe: Which comics I decide to read depends largely on whether Jason (&, to a lesser extent, a couple of other characters) will be appearing. He first showed up in Batman as the second Robin, but was generally despised by fans, and was consequently brutally murdered by the Joker. But, in death, he became significantly more popular, and it’s notable in the comics that whenever Batman feels particularly guilty about something (and he happens to be in the bat-cave), the glass case with Jason’s Robin suit will show up in the background.

Jason as the Red Hood.

Jason as the Red Hood.

In the usual manner of comic book characters, though, he is eventually brought back to life, but instead of everything going back to normal, he is enraged to discover that Batman never avenged him, and (worse) that he has been replaced by a new Robin. There are several series that he shows up in, but the most prominent Jason Todd stories are probably in Batman: A Death in the FamilyRed Hood: The Lost DaysBatman: Under the Hood and the new Red Hood & the Outlaws series.