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    $19.79 list($29.99)
    1. X-Men: Complete Age Of Apocalypse
    $13.59 $12.40 list($19.99)
    2. Batman: Year One Deluxe Edition
    $15.96 list($19.95)
    3. Superman/Batman: Supergirl - Volume
    $12.57 list($17.95)
    4. Star Wars: Visionaries (Star Wars
    $29.95 $8.00
    5. Dark Encounters (Star Wars: A
    $5.36 $3.88 list($5.95)
    6. Batman: The Killing Joke
    $13.96 $12.90 list($19.95)
    7. Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman,
    $9.74 list($12.99)
    8. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 12:
    $10.49 list($13.99)
    9. Daredevil Volume 11: Golden Age
    $11.53 $10.00 list($16.95)
    10. Light and Dark (Star Wars: Clone
    $10.85 list($15.95)
    11. Fall of the Sith Empire (Star
    $26.39 $19.95 list($39.99)
    12. Batman: Cover to Cover : The Greatest
    $16.95
    13. The Golden Age of the Sith (Star
    $12.21 list($17.95)
    14. Star Wars: Empire Volume 4-The
    $10.17 $9.28 list($14.95)
    15. Victories and Sacrifices (Star
    $13.57 $11.95 list($19.95)
    16. Batman: The Long Halloween
    $15.29 $11.05 list($16.99)
    17. Ultimate X-Men Volume 6: Return
    $11.69 $8.39 list($12.99)
    18. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 11:
    $17.68 list($24.95)
    19. X-Men: Mutant Massacre
    $5.50 list($17.95)
    20. Dark Empire (Star Wars)

    1. X-Men: Complete Age Of Apocalypse Epic Book 1 Tpb
    by Not Available
    list price: $29.99
    our price: $19.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0785117148
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-16)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 996396
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    Book Description

    It begins here!The critically acclaimed, fan-favorite storyline that rocked the X-Men Universe to its core is collected across four volumes!In a cracked-mirror world ruled by the genocidal mutant despot Apocalypse, only one hope remains: Magneto and his Astonishing X-Men! The first in a four volume series collecting the entire Age of Apocalypse storyline. ... Read more


    2. Batman: Year One Deluxe Edition
    by Frank Miller
    list price: $19.99
    our price: $13.59
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1401206905
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 3172
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great retelling of Batman's origin
    Batman is a character I've always enjoyed, but I've only recently started getting into the Batman comics.After reading Frank Miller's exceptional "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel, I really wanted to acquire more Batman comics that depicted the characters in a similar manner:as deep, well-thought-out characters that you really feel emotionally attached to by the end of the story.The problem was that, being new to comics, I was tossed into a sea of nearly endless Batman comics, and I didn't really know where to begin.

    Well, where better to start than at the very beginning?

    Batman: Year One is the story of Batman's first year in Gotham City after returning from training abroad, making it the perfect book for someone unfamiliar with Batman's origins, or just looking for a fresh take on the classic story.But the book is as much about the origins of Jim Gordon, who will later become the famed police commissioner of Gotham City, as it is about Batman's beginning.The story hinges on Gordon's attempts to clean up a police force that is corrupt to its very core, and his encounters with the Batman that finally lead up to a climactic confrontation that brings both men together in their fight against crime.

    Firse of all, the packaging and presentation of the story is top-notch.The book is hard bound and comes with a very nice partial sleeve that makes it look very classy.The cover itself depicts a simple black and white drawing of Batman that is quite effective for portraying what the book is about.Each chapter of the story opens with the origin comic book cover from each issue, and they are very vivid and clean.There are many extras, from an amusing illustrated afterword by the artist, David Mazzuccelli, and many pages of preliminary and promotional artwork.In the end, I felt that some of these features could have probably been dropped in favor of a slightly lower price tag, but they are nice additions that give the book a more "deluxe edition" feel.

    The artwork in the story is very good.I really like David Mazzuccelli's style.He's really not entirely different from Miller himself in that his artwork isn't terribly elaborate, but is supremely effective in telling a story.Mazzuccelli really has a strength when it comes to facial expressions.You can really see how the characters feel by the looks on their faces, particularly in the more emotional spots of the book.The backgrounds and characters are beautiful, though, and the colors are very nice and vivid.The artwork brilliantly aids in telling the dark story of Batman's birth and Gordon's struggles.

    The storyline is nothing short of superb as well.I've held Frank Miller in high regard ever since reading "The Dark Knight Returns", and this book is written in a very similar style.You can tell that Miller really likes using internal monologues to convey the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and they are very effective and give the story a depth that other comics don't have.The story progresses logically and is very readable.It's a great retelling of the familiar story of Batman's beginning infused with an almost literary style.

    Miller is an expert at characterization.I was amazed at how much depth and likeability he could give even minor characters.A character that I found myself sympathizing with and surprisingly liking is Gordon's wife Barbara.With only powerful artwork and a few lines, I felt that she was portrayed very powerfully and believably, making her a great character that further enhances the personality and depth of Gordon.You can tell that Miller really likes Jim Gordon, as he is given more characterization than anyone else in the story.I really felt connected to the character by the end of the story, because he is so remarkably human, and not totally unlike myself.He makes mistakes, but he is in the end a good person, and I think this is what makes him so appealing, perhaps even more than Batman himself.This is not to say that the characterization of Batman is lacking in the story; quite the contrary, in fact. Bruce Wayne is also portrayed as a man who has his fair share of problems that he is trying to overcome in his never-ending fight to purge Gotham of corruption.The deep characterizations are what really make this book shine.

    The only gripe I have with the storyline and characterizations is a subplot involving Catwoman in the story.While she is brilliantly portrayed, I ended up feeling as if her role in the story didn't have much meaning other than to set her up as a potential romantic interest of Batman in the future as well as a recognized rogue and thief.But her actions have relatively little bearing on where the story goes.The subplot is still enjoyable, and in the end it doesn't detract from the overall greatness of the storyline.

    Some may be disappointed by the utter lack of classic Batman villains in the story.There is no Joker, no Two-Face, no Riddler, no Scarecrow, no one.Instead, Batman fights criminals that don't seem very different from the ones we find in real life.He is combating thugs and the corruption at the heart of the Gotham City:the politicians and police officers that are on the take and are part of the problem instead of the solution.I felt this gave the comic more credibility, but some will undoubtedly be disappointed that Batman isn't fighting one of his famous and colorful enemies.In fact, the only mention of one such villain in the entire book is in the very last panel on the very last page of the very last chapter.

    The only major problem I have with the overall graphic novel is that it is short.The story itself is only around ninety pages.But they are a great ninety pages, and you won't be disappointed with them.But you will be left wishing that the story wouldn't end, making the length of the story the comic's greatest shortcoming.

    This graphic novel is definitely a must-have for Batman fanatics, and I would heartily recommend it to people who are new to the world of Batman.After all, what better way is there to get into the world of the Dark Knight than by reading the story of where it all began?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally a fitting publication for this great story
    When this miniseries first came out back in the eighties it left everyone breathless. David Mazzucchelli's art is some of the finest I've ever seen. It moves like a motion picture yet every stillis ready to be framed (nice homage to the famous Hopper painting on the side: Gorden and Sgt. Essen having a late night coffee in a cafe called ... Hopper)
    Frank Miller tells a story right from the beginning of the Batman saga. Bruce Wayne and Lieutenant Gordon discover they are both fighting on the same side to clean Gotham from the human filth. The only way to survive in the mess is as a team. They become friends.
    On top of the fantastic graphic novel this book includes over 40 pages of sketches, layouts and script pages. Every Batman fan should have it, what do I say, this is one for you. Buy it. You won't be disappointed, I swear.

    5-0 out of 5 stars batman is awesome
    This is one of the best pieces on Batman I have ever read. It really has some awesome action and great character development of Bruce Wayne and Lt. Gordon. This is right up there with "The Dark Knight Returns" and I personally think its better. Thank you Frank Miller. You are awesome. ... Read more


    3. Superman/Batman: Supergirl - Volume 2
    by Jeph Loeb
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $15.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1401203477
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 54400
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    4. Star Wars: Visionaries (Star Wars (Dark Horse))
    by Not Available
    list price: $17.95
    our price: $12.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1593073119
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-02)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Sales Rank: 181353
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    Book Description

    They've been responsible for some of hte most dazzling and awe-inspiring visuals ever put to film, and now the concept artists behind the Star Wars prequels are bringing their considerable talents to comics.Just in time for Star Wars: Episode III, the wildly gifted mind of the Lucasfilm art department and visual effects powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic come together to tell their own Star Wars tales in this compilation of short stories.Given free reign to explore any and every aspect of the Star Wars universe, each artist offers a new twist or a deeper view into that galaxy far, far away.Nowhere else will you find a more pure or more different look at George Lucas' enduring creation than through the eyes of the Star Wars: Visionaries. ... Read more


    5. Dark Encounters (Star Wars: A Long Time Ago..., Book 2)
    by Archie Goodwin, Carmine Infantino, Terry Austin, Various
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $29.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1569717850
    Catlog: Book (2002-07-10)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Sales Rank: 311864
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Star Wars: A Long Time Ago... features classic Star Wars stories not seen in over twenty years! Originally printed by Marvel Comics, these stories have been re-colored using today’s computer technology, giving "old" work a fresh face. Volume 2 collects issues of the original Marvel run and contains such riveting classics as "Crucible" and the unforgettable "What Ever Happened to Jabba the Hut?" ... Read more

    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Marvel Star Wars
    I read the first volume in this series, "Doomworld," and enjoyed it, but thought it was a bit corny and too cartoonish in places. I was surprised and pleased that the comics got much better with time.

    A good portion of this set of 19 comics revolves around the Tagge family, who generally opposes Darth Vader, but also opposes the rebellion. Baron Tagge even hopes to supplant Darth Vader himself, though we know where such schemes end. In "Doom Mission," we find Baron Tagge has created a space station within the stormy atmosphere of the gas giant Yavin where Tie fighters launch attacks against the rebel base on the fourth moon. This story is quite creative with how Baron Tagge created the space station, how it was discovered and how it was eventually attacked.

    There are quite a few creative moments in the various stories. In a series of three stories, "The Jawa Express," "Saber Clash," and "Thunder in the Stars," we see the Tagge family test and implement an interesting device that freezes anything between implanted towers. The Tagge family uses this device as a weapon against rebel forces.

    In one of the most creative stories, "Riders in the Void," we find Luke and Leia have jumped into the void between galaxies. In one of the emptiest places in the universe Luke and Leia discover a unique, organic space ship with only one inhabitant, who is marginally insane. The ship and its inhabitant have an interesting and unique history, and there are moments when I wondered how Luke and Leia were going to escape.

    Creature creation was similarly unique and better than in the first 20 comics of "Doomworld." In "The Long Hunt/A Duel of Eagles" we meet the winged people of Skye. In "Cavern of the Crawling Death" we learn about stone mites that destroy everything they contact as they eat it.

    There are a few departures from the Star Wars universe as we know it today that are forgivable given that the second two Star Wars movies had yet to be released. We see a Jabba the Hut very different from the slug-like creature we came to know and loathe. We also see the continuing romance between Luke and Leia, though we also know that they are brother and sister. Yet, the general tone of the stories fits well within the Star Wars universe, and the astute reader can see some of the substantial creativity yet to come.

    If you read "Doomworld" and liked it, you'll find that "Dark Encounters" is substantially better and more interesting. The quality of the stories is still lower than the general caliber of the Dark Horse stories, but some of them are very creative and interesting. For those readers that look back fondly on memories of comics from the 60s and 70s, these are the types of stories that you remember well. Enjoy!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Solid Improvement
    3.5 stars actually.

    The artwork, and the plotting improves dramatically in this second collection of Marvel stories. Unlike most of the first collection, these stories mostly feel like they could take place in the Star Wars universe and are viable adventures that the heroes could have had before The Empire Strikes Back.

    Still though, they are not stellar work by any means, merely solid. In retrospect, due to the authors not knowing where George Lucas was going, some of the things you see cause some cognitive dissonance. No fault of the authors, but it is still jarring to see things you know are untrue.

    Decent artwork, and stories in a rather large collection make this a worthwhile collection if you'd like to read a sort of slightly altered universe of what the Star Wars characters did between the movies.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Green Rabbits and Cyborg Bounty Hunters...
    I've just ordered the reprint trade paperback reprints of these Marvel books. I remember reading and re-reading all of these "beyond the movie" adventures when I was a kid. It was just such an incredible charge to see what Luke, Han, and company were doing between the movies. Water worlds, gambling satellites, Darth Vader learning the name of the Death Star's destroyer(a nice plot device), the blocky artwork and awkward poses of Carmine Infantino artwork, wondering WHY these adventurers NEVER changed their clothes as they NEVER seemed to make their way back to Yavin Base after their Flash Gordon-esque side-adventures... Oh, and we can't forget that Obi-Wan Jedi story with the droid 68RKO (which were the call letters of a radio station if I'm not mistaken)...They really DID capture the imagination. Hopefully, Dark Horse will get around to publishing a VOLUME 3 because therein lie the BEST Marvel STAR WARS tales. But these first two will take you to a Long Time Ago in a Decade Not Far Away Enough--The Seventies. You'll see the pop-cultural impact of the first wave of STAR WARS mania, in many ways as endearingly cheesy as that Thanksgiving Holiday special. If you remember these, you will LOVE them all over again...if you don't, then prepare to be mightily entertained, whether you like comics, STAR WARS, or pop-culture in general. These books definitely belong on your shelf...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first collection!
    This is the second trade paperback reprinting the original Marvel Star Wars comics from the late 70's/early 80's. It picks up immediately following the first trade paperback, and goes forward (timeline-wise) up to the first issue of Marvel's Empire Strikes Back adaptation.

    Now, I've already given the first volume a good review, and this one's not going to be any different. I enjoyed these stories immensely when they first came out, and it still gives me a thrill to glance through my collection every now and then. Some of the covers were amazing!

    The stories, for the most part, are the strongest from Marvel's entire line. The very last story in the collection, a fill-in tale where Luke and Leia end up on a large ship that is alive and has emotions, is probably the strongest in the entire batch. But there are other great moments mingled in with the rest. I think the issues featuring bounty hunters (including a cyborg) and the role they play in the Star Wars Universe are particulary interesting reads. And the story where Han and Chewy are trapped in a cavern with metal-eating termites chewing away at the Millenium Falcon (while a very thin Jabba the Hut stands outside the cave waiting for Solo to exit) is a classic.

    Of course, not all of the stories work. There are some cheesy moments when Luke returns to Tatooine, and a few other issues that look like the artwork was rushed to meet a deadline, but overall, most of the issues are still fun to read.

    Should you buy it? If you're a Star Wars nut, of course! But I think these stories would also be great for a parent looking for some good safe stories set in the Star Wars universe to give to their son/daughter. ... Read more


    6. Batman: The Killing Joke
    by Alan Moore
    list price: $5.95
    our price: $5.36
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0930289455
    Catlog: Book (1995-12-01)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 6861
    Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    The Killing Joke, one of my favorite Batman stories ever, stirred a bit of controversy because the story involves the Joker brutally, pointlessly shooting Commissioner Gordon's daughter in the spine. This is a no-holds-barred take on a truly insane criminal mind, masterfully written by British comics writer Alan Moore. The art by Brian Bolland is so appealing that his depiction of the Joker became a standard and was imitated by many artists to follow. ... Read more

    Reviews (83)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Moody and Tragic story of the Joker and Batman
    A comic nearing perfection in both its graphic and story construction. The art, empasising sickly greens, oranges and reds (especially during Gordon's torture sequence) works brilliantly at evoking a sense of the deranged and desperate mind of the Joker. That this tale is only one brutal cycle in the continuing, and perhaps endless, Joker/Batman confrontation is made all-too clear by the same, full-page panel of rain falling in muddy water being shown at both the beginning and the end. The story itself is also spectacular, from Batman's initial attampt to reason with his archnemesis ("There once were two guys in a lunatic asylum...")Joker's merciless attack and humiliation of Barbara Gordon, to Joker's hideous claim that the only difference between him and the rest of the world is "one bad day." One of the most bizarre and horrifying moments in Batman history must be achieved in the two foes final confrontation...that one brief moment when the Joker turns-halfway to Batman...is he considering accepting the Dark Night's help?...to the final scene when both men laugh uncontollably in the killing rain; a single moment when the both the Batman and Joker get the same Joke: that they are together, forever, until they destroy each other. Perhaps this is the "Killing Joke" of the title?

    5-0 out of 5 stars More than just a comic - True Literature
    This is the most in-depth Batman comic I have ever read, and has become my favourite Batman story of all time. The story deals with Joker escaping, paralyzing Barbara Gordon, kidnapping Commissoner Gordon, and trying to prove that any man can go crazy in a single, bad day. As Batman hunts the Joker, the reader is treated to the Joker's origin story, and sees how thin the line is that seperates Batman from the Joker.

    I won't try to get into the psychological aspects of this story -suffice it to say that other reviews have covered it throughly and any attempt on my part would only make me look foolish. However, I will say that the most chilling part about this book is how, if you replace Batman and the Joker with two everyday people, the events still feel horribly real. This is not escapist reading as all comic books have been labeled, in fact, this is the book to show people who don't believe that powerful stories can be told in this medium. Both Batman and the Joker had a single bad day - so why didn't Batman go insane like the Joker did? The reader wants to know the fine line that seperates these two characters, partly so they can realize how close to crossing that line they are in their own lives. The art is truly amazing -detailed, moody, and brilliantly inked - the scenes in the Joker's funhouse scare the reader as much as they scare Gordon. The flashbacks are also impressively tied into the present, with similiar situations bookending each scene. The story begins and ends on the same note, like a vicious, never-ending cycle. Plus, you know you have something special when, after all the vicious, sadistic things the Joker has done, you still feel sorry for him.

    "The Killing Joke" is a true masterpiece, and earns its place as one of the best comics of all time, and a true work of fiction.

    2-0 out of 5 stars The Worst Alan Moore Work - Even He Says So!
    As you can see from nearly every other review here, this work is generally considered a classic - if not one of the all-time best Batman stories, up there with those Frank Miller ones. I disagree. And I disagree reluctantly because Alan Moore's writing is actually very clever and Brian Bolland's artwork is simply gorgeous. Why? Simple. I disagree with nearly everything about Alan Moore's "Batman". Frank Miller mentioned something like that in an interview also. Even Alan Moore has stated countless times that this is his weakest work. But fans still clamour after this book...

    Five reasons I dislike this book:

    [1] Batman is totally wrong. It seemed like the pet-peeve of every cynical Brit writer in the 80s and 90s to portray Batman as equally insane compared to his foes [check out Grant Morrison's "Arkham Asylum" for more of the same].

    [2] The hopeless ending. Agreed, this book has the Joker at his most evil and the book ends with Batman and Joker laughing in the rain?

    [3] The level of *sick* shocks in this book. From Barbara Gordon's crippling to Jim Gordon's "circus" experience. This was written at a period where shocking violence in comics is considered a prerequisite in crafting a "mature" work. Granted, I actually prefer Barbara as Oracle than the cheesy Batgirl but I absolutely detest the way Alan Moore did it in this book.

    [4] The totally unnecessary "origin" of Joker. Joker is one of those characters in comics who really can do without an origin. He is a sicko, and that's all you need to know. We do not need to see him from a more compassionate perspective by having a "tragic origin".

    [5] The use of "Watchmen-transitions". Alan Moore is justly famous for the use of clever transitions between panels. But in this book, we have transitions such as a poster of a fat woman freak in a circus leading to the next panel of Joker's pregnant wife. Where's the catch? This is the real problem of the whole work - clever but ultimately pointless.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Inside The Mind Of The Killer Clown Of Gotham
    The Killing Joke, first published in the late 1980's is an atypical Batman story and yet, remains, one of the best ever written. Back in print since the 90's I was happy to relive the tale after losing my original copy of the book.

    As regular readers and followers of the Batman mythology already know, the Joker, is the Dark Knight's most well known and popular adversary. Talented comic book scribe Alan Moore broke with tradition. He decided this story would not just be about the Joker having some demented plan and our hero has to find a way to foil those plans, rather, he chose to examine what makes the villian tick. The story has Joker shooting and crippling Barbra Gordon, then kiddnaping her father Police Commissioner James Gordon taunting him, to see if a man can truly go insane within a short period of time. While the Joker awaits the inevitable confrontation with Batman, he allows himself to reflect on his early days, and thus, the reader learns his origin. The book focuses less on typical "superhero action" and more on the psychology of these characters. Mr Moore weaves his story with such effortless ease that it never gets bogged down. It's all about the choices that a person makes and how much these two mortal foes really do mirror each other.

    The artistic talents of Brian Bolland and John Higgins really shine in the book. Their rendition of The Joker is quite spectacular and among the best ever produced in a Bat story...Really. The "dynamic duo (sorry I couldn't help myself)" set a standard for the way Joker is now drawn today. Batman doesn't look too bad either. The artwork is a nice mix of subtlty and some broad strokes-matching the story perfectly.

    I have read a lot of Batman stories over the years, The Killing Joke may not be what you would expect for these icons, but it is worth reading for sure. It is one of the best. The book has 48 pages

    5-0 out of 5 stars a story you will go back to, time and again
    I brought this as a 1st addition when it came out and it's one of the few stories i've re-read time and time again. It's a story of two men who take different paths when their lives hit bottom but find they have a lot in common. I loved seeing the Jokers' life before he turned to crime and evil though he is, you see the events that turn him into the man he is now (with a small contribution from batman - read and find out). Reading this comic is what made is difficult from me to enjoy the first batman movie. Well, how could the joker have killed batman's parents if they are roughly the same age and batman was there when he changed? Read this great comic-novel and enjoy it much as I did, you won't be sorry. ... Read more


    7. Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman, Book 1)
    by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Michael Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1563890119
    Catlog: Book (1993-12-07)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 2661
    Average Customer Review: 4.26 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    "Wake up, sir. We're here." It's a simple enough opening line--althoughnot many would have guessed back in 1991 thatthis would lead to one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comics of the second half of the century.

    In Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman weaves the story of a man interested in capturing the physical manifestation of Death but who instead captures the King of Dreams. By Gaiman's own admission there's a lot in this first collection that is awkward and ungainly--which is not to say there are not frequent moments of greatness here. The chapter "24 Hours" is worth the price of the book alone; it stands as one of the most chilling examples of horror in comics. And let's not underestimate Gaiman's achievement of personifying Death as a perky, overly cheery, cute goth girl! All in all, I greatly prefer the roguish breaking of new ground in this book to the often dull precision of the concluding volumes of the Sandman series. --Jim Pascoe ... Read more

    Reviews (73)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Sandman
    I love this series and am slowly acquiring all the books in it. It's fairly expensive, but, if you like the Sandman series, it's a lot cheaper than buying each individual comic. This book isn't the best in the series, but it's still very good. It's not like most comic books. There's no superhero intent on defeating an evil supervillain for the good of mankind. A group of magicians want to capture Death but instead capture Dream. He stays caged for decades, and, when he finally escapes, he has to find his tools (a bag of sand, his helm, and his Dreamstone).

    This first book relies too much on guest appearances made by DC characters, but Gaiman does manage to move beyond that by the eighth issue, "The Sound of Her Wings". I really enjoyed that issue, which has the first appearance of Death. She's the reason I started reading the Sandman series. I'd read The High Cost of Living, and I loved the idea that Death could be a perky goth girl who you could really get to like. Mike Dringenberg, who does the pencils for the eighth issue, does an excellent version of Sandman and Death. I don't really like Sam Keith's version of Sandman that much, but his depictions of horrific things, like Hell, are wonderful. I also liked "Dream a Little Dream of Me", in which Dream has to find his bag of sand and is getting help from John Constantine, and "24 Hours", in which Doctor Destiny has Dream's Dreamstone and is driving the world mad. I consider both of those issues to be top horror. It's definitely worth it to get this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book - Incredible series
    It's a little sad after reading the Sandman books because you know you will never quite recapture the same feeling of going through such a great story for the first time when you pick them again. And trust me, you will be rereading these.

    But the flip side of that is once you have read the series and go back, you see how fully realized Neil Gaiman's vision is. What seems like almost arbitrary bits of exposition are the seeds of future story arcs. "Season of Mists" the fourth book in the series, being just one example.

    The main story begins when a necromancer who, intending to capture Death, captures her little brother Dream instead. He and his son keep him locked up for the better part of the 20th century. Once "Sandman" breaks out, he must restore his dream kingdom and reclaim his talismans of power. That takes him to London, Hell and a 24hr diner outside of Gotham.

    What I love particularly about this series is that it is esoteric without being pretentious. This is what happens when someone who is remarkably well read is also a comic fan. Gaiman manages to invoke The Old Testament, William Faulkner, old DC Comic mythos, Shakespeare, Bobby Darin, Victorian Literature and Greek Tragedy, makes it relevant to the story, and then makes the concepts comprehensible to a fifteen year old. And that's just in this volume. I say the last because that's how old I was when I started to read these. At the risk of sounding overzealous, it has since challenged me to become as well read as the author.

    I've read other reviews arguing that this is not the best one. I disagree only because I know that each volume speaks differently to different people. My humble advice is to start with this one and read them in order the way the author wrote them. I have bought this particular volume three times over the years due to lending it out to friends and not getting it back. Treasure this as well, enjoy and don't lend them out!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dream a little dream of me
    You can't begin to learn about the depth and intense storylines graphic novels conjure up without first paying homage to this, the granddaddy of them all. "The Sandman" series, reinvented and reinterpreted by author Neil Gaiman, took an existing mediocre superhero and transformed him into an otherworldly god. The success of the series is undeniable, and it has the unique additional factor of being equally interested to both men and women. A rarity in comics, I assure you. I had never really read any Sandman before, so I decided to begin at the very beginning. With "Preludes and Nocturnes", you meet the hero of this series naked in a glass container. My kind of show!

    With his siblings Death, Destiny, Despair, Desire and others, Dream is one of the Endless that rule at the edges of humanity. In a makeshift ceremony, a cult attempting to capture Death herself find that they have instead captured Morpheus/ the King of Dreams/ the Sandman/ etc. After 75 years, Dream finds a way to escape his captivity, only to find that things have gone horribly wrong in his absence. Three of his tools in which he kept much of his magic have gone missing. Worse still, his very kingdom has disintegrated. To restore it, Dream much locate his items and defeat a villain that wants to use Dream's power to destroy humanity itself.

    Oh it's definitely a disturbing tale. No question. There are elements in this story that will haunt you long after you put the book down. Oddly, Dream's visit to Hell is probably one of the tamer tales. Still, it's well written. There's nothing like a good quest tale to keep the reader wanting more. The final chapter in this series introduces the reader to Death, Dream's somewhat punk rock sister. Funny fact: Death's a big fan of Mary Poppins. Who knew? Drawing in elements of everything from Alice in Wonderland to 1950s and 60s pop songs that discuss dreams, dreaming, and the sandman (of which I think there may have been roughly 4 billion) as well as Shakespeare, ancient Celtic myth, and even the original Cain and Abel story, Gaiman goes wild. Remarkably, he does all of this and yet never looses his grip on the tale he's telling. Things are never so wild that they get completely out of hand.

    The art in this book is created by the fingers of three meticulous artists. Of them, I had a hard time deciding which I liked best. I'm not an able reviewer of graphic artists, so I can't say who did which story and what style goes with whom. What I can say is that as the stories continue, Dream himself grows and changes. Though he retains his essential look, he goes from contemptuous to thin and drawn to Robert Smith. The last story in the collection, "The Sound of Her Wings" is probably the weakest of the book. While it's wonderful to see Death so perky and mischievous, I was disappointed by the story's hero suddenly looking so much like the lead singer of The Cure. Instead of the Endless master of night and dreams, we have a pouting teenaged kid. Go figure.

    Just the same, this is an excellent starter graphic novel. For the person uncertain as to whether or not accept this art form as actual "literature" (and it's going to be many many years before this mindset becomes standard) this book may not convince them wholeheartedly, but it will at least give them something to think about. A great dark tale with a great dark sexy hero. No wonder the ladies like him so.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Whatever you do, don't buy this book...
    ... at least not if you're only getting started in comics. I say this because the Sandman series is among the finest comics you will ever find.

    In fact, "comic" is too small a word. So is "graphic novel," which is most often used by adults who are trying not to feel silly about reading comics. Sandman is one of those rare comics that transcend the medium. This is no mere comic book.

    This is fiction, with artwork. This is visual storytelling, a modern descendent of humanity's earliest art forms. Don't let the "comic book" label fool you. This is a full-fledged book.

    The entire 10 volume Sandman series centers around Morpheus, the Dream King. One of The Endless, he is one of seven eternal beings who are the embodiments of abstracts. Dream's older sister Death makes an appearance in the final chapter in this volume.

    Other reviewers have criticized this volume for not being very representative of the series on the whole, and that is true. But this volume is a supremely important one becuase it lays the groundwork for everything that follows.

    Not only that, it's very entertaining in it's own right. Chapters like A Hope In Hell, The Sound of Her Wings, or 24 Hours are extraordinary examples of comics at their best. Any one of those stories makes this volume worth owning, but you get all three of them, plus five more chapters as well.

    If you already read comics, then by all means buy this book (and the other nine volumes, too). But if you're just getting started in comics, you should seriously think about starting somewhere else.

    Because once you've read Sandman, you're going to be spending a lot of time in a mostly fruitless search for more books that are as good as this series.

    Seriously. It's that good. 10 out of 10

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good series, slow start
    I'm a late-comer to the Sandman series, but it's become one of my favorites. I read these collections of the original comics out of order, as I encounter them, and started with some of the later collections.

    That's why I found this Sandman such a surprise. I really didn't like it that much. I think it suffered from two big problems. First was a problem of the comics business: there's nearly no such thing as a new series. The big publishers, at least when Sandman first came out, felt the need to graft new characters onto old story lines, perhaps to spark initial sales. Sandman really didn't benefit from that surgery.

    Second and more understandable is that a new series, esp. something so different from DC's usual, needs a little time to find itself. The good news is that, by the end of this collection, the Sandman story line really did seem to come into its own. The last piece in this book, 'The Sound of Her Wings,' is the Sandman I've come to enjoy. I'm just worried that new readers might be disappointed by this book and not come back to the later, better work.

    This isn't bad by any means, it's just a fitful start to an exceptional series. After this, it just gets better. ... Read more


    8. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 12: Superstars Tpb (Ultimate)
    by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Chris Claremont
    list price: $12.99
    our price: $9.74
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 078511629X
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-16)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 81895
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    Book Description

    A bizarre occurrence brings Spider-Man and Wolverine together for the weirdest team-up in super-hero history! As the two struggle to get to the bottom of this mystery, their lives literally unravel. Why are both heroes too concerned with their own lives to work together? Strap yourself in, True Believer; it's all part of the ride you get when you buy a ticket for the team-up for people who hate team-ups!Plus: Johnny Storm realizes that despite his new flame powers and fame on the horizon, he still doesn't have a high-school diploma. And where does the young New Yorker enroll? Why, none other than a certain Queens high school that also counts one Peter Parker - Spider-Man - as a student. And what's up between Johnny and sweet Liz Allen? Watch the sparks fly! ... Read more


    9. Daredevil Volume 11: Golden Age Tpb
    by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev
    list price: $13.99
    our price: $10.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0785113959
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-04)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 532604
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    Book Description

    Follow Matt Murdock through a story that literally spans the entire history of the Marvel Universe! Who was the Kingpin before the Kingpin, and what was his relationship to Matt? Collects Daredevil #66-70. ... Read more


    10. Light and Dark (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 4)
    by John Ostrander, Jan Duursema
    list price: $16.95
    our price: $11.53
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1593071957
    Catlog: Book (2004-05)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Sales Rank: 12896
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    Book Description

    The Jedi are taught to use the Force for good; to avail themselves only to the light side. But the dark side can be a dangerous temptation to even the strongest Jedi. Set against the backdrop of the Clone Wars, this novel-length adventure is filled with espionage, betrayal, and amazing lightsaber battles. It all begins with a dangerous undercover assignment that leads to...well, we dare not reveal the shocking ending! A story that is sure to have Star Wars fans talking - and wondering whether the fate of the Jedi lies in the light, or the dark. ... Read more


    11. Fall of the Sith Empire (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi)
    by Kevin J. Anderson, Dario Carrasco, Dario Carrasco Jr., Bill Black, David Jacob Beckett, Ray Murtaugh
    list price: $15.95
    our price: $10.85
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1569713200
    Catlog: Book (1998-05-06)
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
    Sales Rank: 105806
    Average Customer Review: 3.27 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The Sith Empire has rallied its forces for an all-out battle for control of the galaxy. Its goal: Crush the Republic. And with so many Sith Masters among them, the goal is not unachievable. As Naga Sadow readies his fleet to attack, one lone person threatens to undermine the entire campaign -- Jori Daragon. She isn`t a Jedi. She`s an explorer, a mapper of hyperspace who stumbled on the plans of the Sith. And she just may be the savior of the Republic. ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
    I do not agree with any of the negative past reviews given here. I thought Fall of the Sith Empire was a fitting conclusion to the setup in The Golden Age of the Sith. The information within and its events lead up to other comic and Star Wars storylines. It is told more like a story passed down for generations, a feeling I think the author wanted. In actuallity it is a story told from the events known to a young jedi who is now a master. He is later seen, much older, in the Dark lords of the Sith series (the story of Exar Kun).So there is not great detail in points that do not need more info. You are getting the basic story as to what happened and why, and that is great. No one else has tried to tackle this era in the Star Wars history. Also, i think the art work is justified in its rought style. The setting is in the SW past, and the story is not overly detailed; these characteristics lead to a rough look that was very satisfying. It would not be perfect like the Star Wars present and future time periods. People are entitled to their opinions, but I think some missed the point when actually figuring out why elements of the comic where done in certain ways.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Now we take we back to ancient egypt...
    This is the conclusion of the Golden Age of the Sith. The Fall is also set 5,000 years before NEW HOPE. While the art work also improves, yes I said improves, the story seems to disintegrate into itself. Since I like some of KJA's work, I am assuming that he was not the lead writer, just placed first alphabetically. Nothing important happens here so don't feel you need to waste your money buying this book, unless you want to buy mine!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Isn't there supposed to be a point?
    Once again, I state that I've never been an Anderson fan. 'Golden Age of the Sith' had some streong points, like a decent plot and beautiful art. Alas, the art quality drops a bit here and the story goes into a nosedive. There's almost no plot, save for a big battle. Granted, it can be pretty visually complex and interesting, drawing back to an old style of combat, but overall its quite lacking.

    I've gotten out a fine-toothed comb, but cannot find any cohesive story, unfortunately. Read it only as a conclusion for 'Golden Age', but don't expect a lot.

    5-0 out of 5 stars WoW it is Exar Kun!
    This is a cool book that is about the Sith and moast of all Sith Lord Exar Kun.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Action packed conclusion to The Golden Age of the Sith
    If you liked The Golden Age of the Sith but wanted much more action, this is the perfect addition for you to read. It concludes the events in its predecessor with great storytelling and it's jam-packed with action. This is one of the best stories in the Star Wars universe, with several conflicts occurring at once. You'll also discover an age where everything was primitive by Star Wars standards and Coruscant looked like a large Egyptian city. This TPB continues Dark Horse's tradition of classic action-packed stories combined with descriptive and entertaining illustrations. A must-have, but make sure you read The Golden Age of the Sith first! ... Read more


    12. Batman: Cover to Cover : The Greatest Comic Book Covers of the Dark Knight (Batman)
    by Various
    list price: $39.99
    our price: $26.39
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 140120659X
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 138522
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book!! A Tribute To The Dark Knight!!!
    I just recently received this book,and I can tell you it is well worth having. True, there are definitely some covers that are missing (in my opinion all of Jim Lee's covers should have been here from the Hush series. OUTSTANDING!!!) A beautifully done book to add to your Batman collection. This book does not cover all of Batman's many comic book covers, but this was not to be expected. Instead they point out some of his most daring and bold covers. Batman has had the benefit of being drawn by some of the greatest comic book artist ever. I beleive you will find it truly amazing how each one has their own distinctive style on creating the Dark Knight. So make sure you own this one. You won't be sorry. Hey, maybe they'll make a volume 2.

    4-0 out of 5 stars It's about time, for someone like Batman
    Well first, it's Batman; that might be enough reason to buy it, even for the price. (I'm a collector anyway, so what's some bucks?) Anyway, it features a number of cool and "forgotten" covers done over the 65+ years of Batman being in comics. I was even surprised some of the covers of War Games got in, really nice. There are some well-written commentaries too, by artists and editors and the like, and what cover they picked.

    The cover of the book itself is great. I thought it was just a hardbound book; it turns out, the dust jacket reveals some more to it. I was in awe when I opened it, well done.

    My only rant, not all of the covers I wished to be there was not there. Well, that's how it is. Tec#700 and Strange Apparitons, I think, should've been in the list. Well, all in all if you have the money and would really have something to keep for a number of years, get this. Well, if not, I hope you can browse through it when you get a chance. It would be great.

    ... Read more


    13. The Golden Age of the Sith (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi)
    by Kevin J. Anderson, Chris Gossett, Dario Carrasco Jr., Bill Black, David Jacob Beckett, Stan Woch
    list price: $16.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1569712298
    Catlog: Book (1997-10-01)
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
    Sales Rank: 301251
    Average Customer Review: 3.54 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (13)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Fair Book
    Golden Age of the Sith is not the best Star Wars comic I have read. I recomend it to any Star Wars fan who wants to learn more about the Sith.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Confusing start for the Old Republic Jedi
    On the SW time line this is the first of the OLD REPUBLIC ERA stories released Aug 1997. Written by Kevin j Anderson, author of the JEDI ACADEMY TRILOGY (1994), KJA is one of the more important writers in the SW universe, or at least he was. He wrote the young jedi series, and those kids are now the heart of the jedi in the NJO series of books. He also wrote the Essential chronology with Daniel Wallace released in 2000. These old republic are comics have been criticized as almost unrecognizable from the jedi that luke is training.
    It is not my job to defend KJA and his story, but times were different. What I can't explain away is the poor editing. All the ORE comics are confusing as heck. Most of them have no importance to the Skywalker era. The art work that gets a C grade, but Darkhorse has made tremendous strides in later comics. Comics produced in 2002 and 2003 have stunning artwork! I'll give this comic a 3 star review for starting things off.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 5,000 years before Anakin and Luke
    This is actually the first STAR WARS story in the entire chronology. Although be advised that it was published by Dark Horse Comics later in the TALES OF THE JEDI (TOTJ) run, in 1996-1997, as 5 issues and one #0 issue.

    If you're going to read the TOTJ series, I recommend you start with this one. It's a great introduction to the Old Republic and the hidden Sith empire.

    Kevin J. Anderson does a good job with the story and the characters. Some backstory on the origin of the Sith is provided. It is very cool to see the Sith and their manipulations, the conflict among themselves. The art is very good, with impressive planets and character designs. There is a nice level of detail and the coloring is above average.

    I really like TOTJ because it is so far removed from all other incarnations of SW. There is so much to explore, and the history of the Sith is something that has always been of keen interest to me.

    THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE SITH is a fast-paced read that entertains all the way through.

    This story is concluded in TALES OF THE JEDI: THE FALL OF THE SITH EMPIRE.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting SW history, but hard to like
    'Golden Age of the Sith', as the other Tales of the Jedi books, is a bit of a hard sell for fans and non fans. Fans of Star Wars will buy this book to complete their collections, and just might enjoy it for it's historic tale set in the far past of the Star Wars continuity. However, the tale is so bizarre that it bears almost no resemblance to the current Star Wars universe. For some it might be a drawing point, but I think others will be turned off by this. Non fans will turn away, as the story isn't particularly intriguing and the art is sub-par. The rest of the 'Tales of the jedi' stories are much better.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Hardly the best of Star Wars
    I found this to be a mixed package. Once again, I state that I've never been a Kevin J. Anderson fan. His earlier novels and comics were pretty good, but after his first few the quality virtually vanished.

    The story of Gav and Jori is a bit of a bore, and even though you're supposed to feel sympathetic toward these two, I just didn't feel it. The Sith, meanwhile, turn out to be a bunch of squabling fools. The only character who is really worth a dime is Naga Shadow.

    The art by Carrasco was good, though. His art style is well-fitted for the ancient 'Tales of the Jedi' series. (Any attempts to transplant him into 'modern' Star Wars, though, don't prove very fortunate, as 'Leviathan' proved.) The Sith architecture and garb is well-done, with beautiful vistas and the Egyptian-style tombs and architecture. Even the warships have a certain flair to them.

    Overall, the art's about as good as the story is lackluster. Insight into the ancient Sith is unfortunately little. Flip through it, take a look at the nice, old-style art, and then I reccomend putting it back on the shelf. ... Read more


    14. Star Wars: Empire Volume 4-The Heart of the Rebellion
    by Judd Winick, Ron Marz, Steve Hartly, Randy Stradley, Paul Chadwick
    list price: $17.95
    our price: $12.21
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1593073089
    Catlog: Book (2005-04)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
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    Book Description

    She was the catalyst that helped to turn a rag-tag rebellion into the Rebel Alliance. She provided the impetus for the "Heroes of Yavin" in their attack on the Death Star. And she was the spark that ignited the flames of passion in one of the galaxy's most notorious rogues. "She," of course, is Princess Leia, the leader - and heart - of the Rebellion against Palpatine's galactic Empire. The four stories in this volume follow Leia from the weeks just before the events in A New Hope, to the time just before The Empire Strikes Back - from her first transforming experience with armed rebellion, to facing the ramifications of consequences of the destruction of her home planet, to the beginnings of true love. ... Read more


    15. Victories and Sacrifices (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 2)
    by Haden Blackman, Randy Stradley, John Ostrander, Toms Giorello, Brian Ching, Jan Duursema
    list price: $14.95
    our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1569719691
    Catlog: Book (2003-09)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Sales Rank: 9851
    Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    From one of the swamp moons of Naboo, to the war-torn cityscapes of Brentaal IV, the battles of the Clone Wars have thrown the galaxy into turmoil. New Separatist threats, ranging from deadly biological weapons, to dark Jedi, to unkillable alien bounty hunters, have the loyalist Jedi and their clone troops pushed to their limits. This graphic novel collection contains three separate, yet linked stories of heroism and sacrifice set during the time between Episode II and Episode III! ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars SUPERB QUALITY CONTROL WORKS.
    I have been critical of the occasional lack of quality control by lazy editors at dark horse. But this comic is magnificent! I had tripidations when i realized that two writters, 3 pencilers and 3 inkers were involved. But the editors and everyone else did their jobs and the results are tremendous.

    The master plan for the entire PRE-QUEL endeavor has been very satisfying so far, unlike the extremely disappointing NJO. Here the master plan combines excellent novels and comic books with the movies to tell the story.

    Excellent followup to volume 1. Great job Lucas films and darkhorse.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The New Face of War
    The Clone Wars rage on in this exciting volume.

    This book contains the first appearances of the two new villains of the Clone Wars: the bounty hunter Durge, and Asajj Ventress, the female Dark Jedi.

    If you saw the CW animated series than you are familiar with these villains. They are great new characters, and are the new face of war. Durge has a very cool look as well as an entertaining personality and dialogue.

    The art is handled by three artists, all of them excellent. This features the first time Brian Ching drew an issue (Republic #53), and it's nice detailed work. Jan Duuresma is outstanding, as usual. Tomas Giorello also does a commendable job.

    Dark Horse is really doing tremendous work with Star Wars right now. In my opinion, the current SW comics are among the best they've ever published.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Wars continue...
    Anyone who has read the first collected comic "Star Wars: Clone Wars; Volume 1" knows that the art work and story lines are excellent!!!

    This issue expands on the conflict of the Clone Wars and develops the characters more so you can really get a feel for who they are and how they act, especially the Sith Warriors. Volume 2 contains much more action than Volume 1 and leaves you wanting the next Volume already!

    If you have a love for Star Wars and the expanded universe of the comics; or if you just love a few great war stories in a sci-fi setting, this is the comic for you. However it should be said that although this comic can be read without reading the first volume, those that have read the first will enjoy this comic more as they can notice the character development and know the origins of some of the conflicts in this volume.

    Happy reading and (Always wanted to say this), May the Force be with you! ... Read more


    16. Batman: The Long Halloween
    by Jeph Loeb
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1563894696
    Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Sales Rank: 9089
    Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (50)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Solid, but ultimately disappointing, Batman murder mystery
    This graphic novel gathers together all 13 issues of "Batman: The Long Halloween", written and drawn, respectively, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The story revolves around Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, the ruthless head of Gotham's fiercest gangster empire. The Roman is responsible for countless murders, hijackings, and crimes throughout Gotham, but authorities have never been able to convict him (most of the graft-ridden city is either on his payroll or bribable). Batman, along with a young Captain Gordon and headstrong District Attorney Harvey Dent, is determined to rid Gotham of Falcone's corruption, but he soon learns that a mysterious figure may have already beaten him to the punch: a serial killer, known only as "Holiday", is currently on the loose in Gotham and preying on members of Falcone's extended "family". Batman, Gordon, and Dent now face a combined problem: bringing Falcone to justice, while also ending Holiday's deadly spree.

    One of "The Long Halloween"'s primary goals is to provide backstory on Gotham's crime lord past, and this is where the novel truly shines. Readers finally get to see the crime organizations that controlled much of Gotham in the early days (this dark past was hinted at in other Batman stories, but it's more fully explored here). In addition, "The Long Halloween" contains a fascinating retelling of Harvey Dent's past, which will be warmly welcomed by fans of this sometimes morally-dubious friend of Batman's. Unfortunately, readers hoping for a significant glimpse into Batman's own psyche will be sorely disappointed; Batman remains a cipher throughout most of the novel, speaking always in a terse, stacatto rhythm and providing little in the way of a glimpse into his mind's inner workings.

    While "The Long Halloween" is competently written, it suffers from a lack of originality and a workman-like narrative drive. The ideas explored here (Italian gangsters and serial killers) are mildly intriguing within the larger context of Gotham, but Loeb doesn't infuse them with many new twists, so they remain tired cliches in this story. Also, in an attempt to give an "epic" feel to this saga, Loeb introduces many of Batman's most infamous foes into the mix (The Joker, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, and The Mad Hatter are just some of the villains on display here). However, the characters are introduced and then dispatched so quickly by Batman, that they don't provide any real sense of drama (in fact, at times, they almost seem to be there for comic relief, which doesn't seem quite right). I think this story would have benefitted from focusing on a much smaller handful of villains, rather than the scattershot approach it takes.

    I similarly found the ending of the story and the mystery to be somewhat unsatisfying, although I acknowledge that this is a matter of individual tastes. While it's interesting to see Batman (and Gordon and Dent) involved in such a bizarre murder mystery, the story doesn't play fair with the standard "rules" of the genre--some may say this makes for a breath of fresh air in the Batman universe (and the mystery genre itself), but I think it amounts to a bit of a cheat for trusting readers. In the end, it's difficult to tell just how ambiguous Loeb intended certain elements of the mystery to be; in fact, there's a convincing argument to be made that some of the ambiguity is merely due to sloppy storytelling. Gotham and the larger Batman universe provide fertile ground for this style of mystery, but "The Long Halloween" ultimately fails to deliver on that promise.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic early-career Batman story
    Long Halloween works on so many levels. I went into this book knowing how it was going to end and it still captivated me. It is both a murder mystery and a story of a fall from grace. The main plotline-the mystery of the identity of a serial killer who murders members of the Falcone and Maroni crime families every major holiday-almost takes a back seat to the tragic transformation of Harvey Dent, who starts out as Batman and Captain Gordon's partner and friend and becomes one of their greatest foes by the end of the story. This series ranks alongside the Killing Joke as an important piece of Batman continuity as well as examining Batman's relationship with his enemies. Loeb's writing is good minimalism, packing so much power into so little dialouge. Tim Sale's artwork is just beautiful. He is one of the most talented pencilers ever, and breaths new visual life to several Batman characters. The series is lenghty but it is also fast paced and can be read in a relatively short amount of time. The pacing of the artwork is near-perfect, save for the unsettling abundance of splash pages. This series also well balances Batman's foes between pyschologically and physically deformed supercriminals and regular human gansters. After reading this and the first issue of its follow-up Dark Victory, one can only wonder why team Long Halloween does not work on a regular Batman title.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite Batman book, part 1
    This is the book that got me back into graphic novels/comics. A lush, noir-esque story with great twists and turns as well as a new take on a classic villian that retains the basic origin while expanding it slightly.

    It's set early in Batman's career, before Robin and before his role was clear in the eyes of police. The only person who believes in him and what he's doing is Jim Gordon, at this point only a lieutenant in the police force.

    Fantastic art and a brilliantly written story. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have quickly become my favorite tandem in graphic novels. Brilliant work! Brilliant!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great Two-Face Story, Terrible Batman Story!
    Here's another offering from the kings of retro, Jeph Loeb (writer) and Tim Sale (artist), reexamining Batman during his mythical "Year One" period. If you believe the intro to this volume, this story was meant to be a sequel to Frank Miller's classic retelling of the Dark Knight's early days in "Batman: Year One" (1986/7). As a story, this work is pretty weak in many areas; as a sequel, is simply falls short of the tight, mature storytelling of Frank Miller's original.

    The story centers on the Roman family (originally introduced in "Batman: Year One"), a serial killer who offs people in creative ways during holiday seasons and the trio out to stop the crimes - Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent. Tim Sale is especially suitable for a work like this - his moody, atmospheric and splash-pages art are truly a sight to behold. You feel yourself being sucked into Batman's Gotham. My primary complaint is with Jeph Loeb's writing. Like my previous review of "Superman for All Seasons", my views of the man's writing hasn't changed. I like HOW he writes - I just dislike WHAT he writes! He's a great scripter, providing witty, timely and simply apt dialogues and caption boxes that the whole thing read very smoothly even though it runs into 300+ pages. The problem is with his insipid plotting. He should have someone else plot his tales and script over them. For example, in order to maintain the novelty of "holiday-themed killings", the story is stretched across THIRTEEN months and countless murders - and finally Batman catches the killer (but we are told that he got the wrong guy). And this is the "World's Greatest Detective"? Meanwhile, Batman consults a Hannibal-Lecter-like Calendar Man who is incapacitated in prison but seemingly knows the identity of the killer (?!?). See the problem? Batman, Gordon and Harvey are supposedly super-cops and they run around like madmen without a clue to the killer and you have this locked-up guy knowing the truth behind everything? Granted, Loeb was trying to set up a "Silence of the Lambs" scene with Calendar Man but therein lies the weakness of the whole thing. It is a scene set up for its own sake and doesn't contribute anything to the STORY. We live in times wherein comic writers are a lot more influenced by TV and movies than literature. And Loeb, former screenwriter, epitomize this new breed of writers who set up cool scenes, writes clever dialogue, provides the atmosphere with the right artistic collaboration but ultimately delivers something very hollow and shallow. "The Long Halloween" is often compared to the pulp classics of Chandler and Hammett. I disagree vehemently. Loeb and Sale gave us "mood" and "cool scenes" but ultimately the story is without gusto, the characters lack the machismo and grit of true noirish anti-heroes, and though the atmosphere is there, it lacks the tight, all-encompassing claustrophobia of the great noirish works.

    The only redeeming factor in this work is the retelling of Two-Face's origin. Loeb is especially great in the quiet "character" moments and here, the tragic story of Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face is beautifully retold. But Loeb's strength is often his most-glaring fault at the same time. For example the book begins with a full-page drawing of a grim-looking Bruce Wayne muttering, "I believe in Gotham City" - a scene I found to be laughably out-of-character for the flamboyant playboy persona of Bruce Wayne! This kinds of out-of-character scenes abound throughout the story. All in all, this story should have been better written by a more gritty writer like Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker (both of them have written far better Batman stories than Loeb here).

    5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite Batman book, part 1
    This is the book that got me back into comics! I've been a Batman fan for years but these two guys reeled me in to the comics.

    This story takes place early in Batman's career. How early? No Robin, Harvey is still "Apollo" Harvey Dent, and James Gordon is still married to his wife. It's essentialy a murder mystery involving the Falcone crime family, back when there were REAL criminals running Gotham as opposed to the classic Bond-villians-on-acid criminals! Members of this family are being hit and the killer leaves macabe souveniers related to the holiday on which the murder occurs. Everyone is suspect, the conclusion is startling; everything I love in film noir murder mystery!

    The art is more realistic than other Batman books. My only quip is the way catwoman was designed. They reached the design apex on the animated series. But in this book she has large eye holes, large ears, and whiskers in a attempt to make her more cat-like. Selina Kyle is WONDERFULLY done! The best drawn character is the Joker, he's my favorite anyway!

    This is my favorite book because it's back to the essentials: Batman kicks the crap out of criminals, no supernatural stuff, and a great emotional comples for our hero! Bravo! ... Read more


    17. Ultimate X-Men Volume 6: Return Of The King Tpb (Ultimate X-Men)
    by Mark Millar, David Finch, Adam Kubert
    list price: $16.99
    our price: $15.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0785110917
    Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 72347
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Magneto, the X-Men's deadliest villain, returns. They've faced the Weapon X program, Proteus and even the superhuman strikeforce known as The Ultimates. Now, still licking their wounds from their prior battles, can Xavier's mutant team possibly survive the return of their most powerful foe? ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Magneto is back for his rematch with the Ultimate X-Men
    One thing that was always impressive about the X-Men was that it was one of the few superhero comic books where the definitive villain popped up in the first issue. Of course we are talking about Magneto the Mutant Master of Magneticism. The same thing was true for "Ultimate X-Men," where Marvel essentially restarted the series in contemporary times, reconceptualizing some of the core elements. For example, this time around the original X-Men combine Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast and Iceman from the first lineup with Storm and Colossus from the second (with Wolverine being recruited from the dark side so that he can appear on every cover of the trade paperback reprints). The result is a lot of familiar items are condensed into each story arc, which is then collected into a trade paperback.

    "The Return of the King" is Volume 6 in the "Ultimate X-Men" series and the title, of course, refers to Magneto. In the first volume in the series the X-Men fought Magneto and not only defeated him, but also apparently killed him. However, this turned out to be one of Professor X's mind games; he convinced Magneto that he was Erik Lensheer, unaware of his past life as a mutant terrorist. When the Brotherhood of Mutants discovers Magneto is still alive they find him and remove the mental blocks Xavier had placed in his minds. We are now back to the beginning in many ways, except this time around both Magneto and all the homo sapiens are very wary. In fact, the Bush Administration has Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. going after all the mutants, including the X-Men. Since they already have Xavier in custody, stopping Magneto is going to be a problem.

    Actually, stopping Magneto is always a problem. For a long time I have been convinced that Magneto would actually win and the reason I liked the first volume of this series so much was that I thought it recognized this fact by having Professor X and the X-Men going up against Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants go at it just once for all the marbles. In the end Magneto should have been dead because he should be unstoppable in a rematch; indeed, look at what ends up doing in this one, extending his magnetic reach across the entire planet. Besides, if you can explode nuclear reactors, why stop at just one? Magneto is simply the most dangerous super villain in the Marvel (or Ultimate) universe. When they were retooling him they should have ratcheted down his power level a couple of notches (Actually, they should do the same thing for Xavier as well).

    But since Magneto winning would mean coming up with a new title for the comic book, Magneto has to be defeated. Once again the key is getting his helmet off of his head and while I like the way that happens this time around, I still do not really buy that anybody could get close enough to actually do it. Besides, as is often the case with these Ultimate titles, things end up reflecting the blockbuster movies (e.g., Magneto, living in a plastic cage). Clearly one of the defining elements of the X-Men today is the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr and the first issue of "Return of the King" provides an encapsulated version of their history (as well as a new explanation for how Xavier ended up in his wheelchair). Certainly there is something to be said for the ongoing debate that the pair have been having for over a decade.

    Collected in "Return of the King" are issues #26-33 of "Ultimate X-Men," written by Mark Millar, and illustrated by Adam Kubert and David Finch, with Ray and Ben Lai. The most interesting addition to the X-Men mythos this time around is the sub-plot in which Wolverine finds a way to get Cyclops out of the way so that he can make a move on Jean Grey, especially given the intriguing idea that Logan and Scott are Charles and Eric, the next generation. Most of the relationships between the Ultimate X-Men (e.g., Colossus and Wolverine, Beast and Storm) are more interesting as well. Sometimes I think the "Ultimate X-Men" is overloaded with ideas, but for those who remember Marvel's Mery Mutants from the very beginning the changes are always something to think about.

    Final Question: Since the Ultimate version of Nick Fury is African-American (apparently there were Howlin' Commandos in the Vietnam War), does that explain why Colin Powell was omitted from the White House discussions while Dick Chaney and Donald Rumsfeld were not? Just curious at that rather interesting omission.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Tale of The Ultimate Heroes
    This TP collection contains the finest story arc yet for The Ultimate X-Men. Magneto is loose. The Ultimates want him after he has massacred hundreds of innocents in bridge collapse, and they figure the best way to get him is through The X-Men. Meanwhile, romantic jealousies lead to tragedy and betrayal as the Wolverine, Scott Summers , Jean Grey triangle goes over the boiling point. This series coincided with The Ultimate War, which you should read as well. Heck, read The Ultimates so you understand what this is all about. Great art, breathtaking plot twists and the great dialogue that only Mark Millar can provide. Don't miss this collection!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Contains "Ultimate X-Men" issues 26-33 (Not Just for Kids)
    I have the hardcover "Ultimate X-Men" volumes 1 and 2 [covering issues 1-25] and the paperback, "Ultimate War". The title page includes a brief synopsis that should help you understand what's going on if you haven't read the earlier volumes. If you want a roll call, this volume includes the "ultimate" line versions of Magneto, Professor X, Dr. Moira MacTaggert, Nick Fury, Sabretooth, Multiple Man, Mastermind, Nightcrawler, Forge, the Blob, Iceman, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Shadowcat, Rogue, and a mutant called Detonator whom I have not run across in the regular Marvel X-Men, but I'm still catching up. There's also a cameo by another mutant, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

    This book opens by showing us how Magneto and Prof. X worked together, how their friendship deteriorated over several years, and, in more detail, how Magneto crippled Xavier. Then it moves into the present day and Magneto's progress on his refuge for mutants as well as the unpleasant scene where he deals with plans for a satellite mutant tracker. Meanwhile, the X-Men-in-hiding are dealing with Magneto's brotherhood in the hope of rehabilitating their image.

    Is the rumor that Wolverine deliberately left Cyclops to die in the Savage Land true?

    In the grand tradition of comic book villains, Magneto tells our heroes something of his frightful plan for eliminating the human-mutant relations problem. The X-Men have only a week to find Magneto's hiding place and save the world. (Let me just say that a machine, different from and much more powerful than the one used in the first X-Men movie, is involved.) The final battle certainly kept my interest.

    During most of the action, Professor X is being held prisoner in a S.H.I.E.L.D. detention camp for mutants suspected of being terrorists. He refuses to betray his students, of course. I reread his words of encouragement to a fellow prisoner after rereading earlier volumes and those words became a little unnerving near the end. Why?

    Because of what Prof. X tells Nick Fury and what he tells Magneto when they meet again late in the book. You won't have to have read the earlier volumes to speculate on whether or not Xavier is telling the truth. I'm afraid that he *is* telling the truth. If so, that would explain a couple of his moves in earlier volumes that I found incredibly stupid -- and would make this version of Prof. X a little scary.

    Ignore the "9-12" age group recommendation. While they might enjoy the action, I think you need to be older than that to fully appreciate this book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Covers Ultimate X-Men # 26-33
    First keep in mind that this should be considered an alternate universe version of the X-Men. That way you won't be screaming about the differences from the regular comics. If you've already read through volume 5, "Ultimate War", the opening does not pick up where that left off. It traces the rise and fall of the partnership between Professor Xavier and Magneto for the first 20 pages or so.

    Magneto is getting ready to destroy the entire human race, except for a token man and woman. The X-Men are in hiding, although they do make an attempt to rehabilitate their image and track down Magneto. Prof. X has been moved to that detention unit for mutants in Cuba that was threatned in "Ultimate War". Cyclops is not dead (was anyone expecting he would be?), but he's not in good condition. Of course the X-Men will save the day, Prof. X will escape, and Magneto will be foiled, but there'll be plenty of fighting, explosions, and a threatened nuclear meltdown.

    Loved the part where Storm meets the Beast's parents, not to mention having my suspicion about Xavier's cat confirmed.

    The final scene between Xavier and Magneto is my favorite part of the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars X-cellent!
    I enjoyed this volume greatly! This picks up from the very badly drawn volume five, the X-Men are recovering from their attack from the Ultimates, and Professor X is still held captive. Many things are revealed in this volume...and the action is extraordinary! I was a bit disappointed that the cover isn't how it's viewed on this page (of course it has Wolverine on the front; but that pic wtih Magneto rocks), but I got over it. Buy your copy today!!! ... Read more


    18. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 11: Carnage Tpb (Ultimate)
    by Brian Michael Bendis
    list price: $12.99
    our price: $11.69
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0785114033
    Catlog: Book (2004-11-17)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 14346
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    Book Description

    The ULTIMATE titles are well-known for adding a unique twist to classic Marvel characters...and you better believe they're about to get a whole lot more twisted!One of the most ruthless villains in the history of the Marvel Universe, the fan-favorite Carnage, gets the Ultimate treatment!And though young Peter Parker has proven himself time and time again on the field of battle, can even he hope to defeat this heartless killing machine? Collecting ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #60-65. ... Read more


    19. X-Men: Mutant Massacre
    by Chris Claremont
    list price: $24.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0785102248
    Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
    Publisher: Marvel Comics
    Sales Rank: 256909
    Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars pretty good
    in case you were wondering, this collection includes 10 issues:

    Uncanny X-Men 210-213
    X-Factor 9-11
    New Mutants 46
    Thor 373-374
    Power Pack 27

    technically an issue of daredevil also tied into this crossover, but it's not included here.

    crossovers are always fun, but as another reviewer mentioned they tend to meander. the writers didn't seem overly concerned about keeping the crossover self-contained, so a lot of the comics bring up events that don't get resolved until after the events in the books contained here. most of the backstories are explained enough that newbie readers shouldn't be too clueless, although if you're new to the x-men you should start off w/ the essential x-men series.

    highlights: great fight w/ psylocke, wolvie, and sabretooth; apocalypse assembling his four horsemen; angel getting overwhelmed by the marauders.

    minor gripe: WHY does thor not have a beard on the cover when he does at the time of these comics??

    5-0 out of 5 stars Really complete
    If you want complete stories, then you are not going to do much better. If you want to see the X-Men in a state of war, then this is a far better storyline than the X-Tinction Agenda. Lots of mutants, lots of fights, and lots of poignant moments, from the injuries that led to the creation of Excalibur and Archangel, to Psylocke joining the X-men, to the death of so many Morlocks. The inclusion of Thor and Power Pack was well-handled. This novel can not be more highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mutants aplenty
    Excellant graphic novel. One of the better X-men novels. Allstar cast includes X-men, X-factor, New Mutants, Power Pack, Morlocks, Marauders, Apocalypse and the beginings of his four horseman, and the Mighty Thor. Only dissapointment was not seeing Thor pummel the overrated sabertooth like the insignificant flea that he is, who comments that he would have torn Thor to shreads. All in all I highly reccomend this.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Good Story With Too Many Extras
    I'm a comics fan and like most people I got my comics start with Marvel. I eventually bought more than Transformers and G.I. Joe and I got into X-Men. I think this graphic novel epitomizes my feelings about Marvel in general and the mutant comics (X-Men, X-Factor, etc.) in particular. The story here is a compilation of all comics from the storyline. The story is straight forward, a group of mutants has set out to kill all other mutants but in the process the story has to conveniently cross-over into Thor, Power Pack and more. Marvel does this to increase their readership on other titles. Since this is a trade paperback you get everything in order for one price. When reading the story in this fashion I began to see how annying this was since the story meandered due to the cross-vers that were barely related but I also felt sorry for those who bout the cross-overs off the shelf since they spent a ton more than they probably intended to.

    The story itself is good but reads more like it's for the die hard fans, not really for comics and graphic novel fans looking for something more to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good story, lots of action, & Sabretooth vs. Wolverine!!!
    A good story with good art, featuring the first appearence of the Marauders, the foundation for Excalibur, the loss of Angel's wings, and the deaths of most of the Morlocks! There are two Wolvie vs. Sabretooth battles and some sub plots featuring X-Factor, Power Pack, Thor, and the New Mutants. ... Read more


    20. Dark Empire (Star Wars)
    by Tom Veitch, Cam Kennedy
    list price: $17.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1569710732
    Catlog: Book (1993-05-01)
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Sales Rank: 255934
    Average Customer Review: 3.59 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Tom Veitch's original comic strip story traces Luke Skywalker's entrance into the Dark Side in the years after the fall of Darth Vader. The Empire is fragmented, and the Rebels seem on the verge of winning their long struggle when the sinister power of World Devastators emerges from the galactic core. These Devastators chew up worlds and manufacture robotic war machines out of the resources they consume. Luke's dark journey seems the only way to halt the massacre. But despite the importance of Luke in Dark Empire, the portrayal of Leia as an emerging Jedi is really the centerpiece of this volume. Married to Han (who goes flat in Veitch's hands) and with two children, Leia is torn between her role as mother and her role as Jedi warrior. While the story sometimes jumps too quickly between major scenes, Veitch does a good job of capturing the epic feel of George Lucas's masterpiece trilogy. Cam Kennedy's artwork is mixed in quality. Some of his drawings of the Millennium Falcon, hunter-killer probes, and robotic TIE-fighters seem to leap directly from the movie screen, while his human figures (especially of Han and Luke) can appear generic. Also, his style of coloring, using washes of similar colors on each page, is good for capturing moods but tends to obscure details. Despite these occasional shortcoming, this comic is recommended for one simple reason: once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down. The other two parts of the Dark Empire trilogy include: Dark Empire II and Empire's End.--Patrick O'Kelley ... Read more

    Reviews (56)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Luke becomes the apprentice of a ressurected Emporer.
    The opening pages of "Dark Empire" gripped me instantly, and I wasn't disappointed by the storyline. The characters are familiar and the technology and diversity of aliens, planets, and vehicles are worthy of the "Star Wars" name. The only drawback is that the artwork can become a bit confusing and sloppy at times, but a true "Star Wars" fan will be able to look past that. In chronology, it and its sequel "Dark Empire II" take place between "The Last Command" and "Jedi Search". It contains a vital chunk of the "Star Ears" saga, although this is a comic book with no novelization. Definately worth a look.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hold the phone! Let's look at the facts here!
    Ok, this isn't a review of Dark Empire, but rather a counterpoint to the people who are blasting a very good peice of Star Wars expanded literature. Quite frankly, the Dark Empire trilogy is not the shipwreck that many people are making it out to be. Ok, the "Galaxy Gun" wasn't a very good name for a superweapon (cannon would have been better), but for the sake of Starwars fans everywhere, I'll just deal with the two biggest problems people seem to be having, the return of the Emperor and Luke's supposed switch to the Darkside. Considering you scrolled down this far, you already know the basic plot.

    Yes, Vader's killing of Palpatine was a great ending to Lucas' saga. But the idea in Dark Empire is Palpatine and his empire were an evil so great that no one person could destroy them. It took Vader and his children, Luke and Leia, to finally put an end to Palpatine reign. Eventhough Han, in typical fashion, blows away the emperor's last (weak and genetically unstable) clone in Empire's End, it was stated that by Palpatine's doctor that he would die forever very soon unless he found a jedi to posses after his defeat and loss of aceptable clones in Dark Empire and Dark Empire II. So technically, it was Luke and Leia who "defeated" Palpatine. Luke also does the impossible by defeating the Emperor himself in physical combat (Which I felt was lacking even in the movie trilogy), something no jedi had ever done, and destroyed Palpatines best clones (with a little help from a revolting warrior or two). All these grafical novels do is expand the confict with Palpatine from Vader, down to the next generation, Luke and Leia, which is quite appropreate if one is familer with the Star Wars universe.

    There is also a crystal clear explanation which is stated several times why Luke "turned" to the darkside. It was stated that Luke was trying to learn all of Palpatines dark secrets and then use them to destroy him and his empire once and for all. Come on! If Luke really turned to the darkside immediately why would he give the New Republic the codes to beat the invincible world devastators? Later on though, Luke does go too far into the darkside and Leia has to save him, like Luke did with Vader. Luke also did it to understand his father better, he needed to know why his father became Darth Vader. There's also a dozen pages in the back of Dark Empire which runs through the whole plot again! For crying out loud! Did these critics even read the book! Anyway, don't be put off by a few naysayers, the Dark Empire trilogy is better than bad, its great!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Purists, lighten up...Dark Empire is classic Star Wars....
    It is a time of peril for the New Republic. Six years after the Battle of Endor, the destruction of the Empire's second Death Star, and the defeat of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, the war for control of the galaxy still rages on.

    Despite their victory over the infamous Grand Admiral Thrawn a year before, the former Rebels have been forced to evacuate Coruscant after a successful invasion by resurgent Imperial forces. But when the Empire's "leaders" begin to fight over the right to govern, civil war breaks out and gives Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian and Alliance troops an opening to carry out a daring raid on Coruscant itself. But the mission goes awry and Skywalker and Calrissian crash-land their captured Star Destroyer at the heart of the Imperial City.

    But when Han Solo and his wife Leia, accompanied by Chewbacca and C-3PO, attempt to rescue Luke and Lando, they are taken aback by Luke's refusal to go with them back to the secret Alliance base known as Pinnacle. Instead, he allows himself to be whisked off by a dark side storm, leaving his twin sister and her husband to wonder if the burdens of being a Jedi Master are too heavy for Luke to bear alone.

    When this new chapter of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was first published as a six-issue comic book series by Dark Horse, I had mixed feelings. The concept was daring...Luke falls to the dark side of the Force (or does he?), the Emperor, thought to be dead at the end of Return of the Jedi, is back, thanks to the power of cloning technology...heck, even Boba Fett is revealed to having not being found "digestible" by the Sarlacc. All very fascinating, but wasn't Tom Veitch pushing things a bit too far? So even though I read my friend Geno's six issues from cover to cover, I thought, "Nawww....I'm not buying this. It doesn't fit into the Star Wars saga...."

    Ah. Silly me. When I read Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Search, the first installment of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, I noticed certain references to the reconstruction of both Coruscant and Mon Calamari, which had been subjected to battle and siege in Dark Empire. There were also passing references to the reborn Emperor. Later, when I broke down and bought this one volume collection, I read the introduction by Anderson and realized that the changes Veitch made in the Star Wars storyline were just too big to ignore. Even though as a Star Wars fan I know the only "official" version is the six-Episode film saga as written, produced, and/or directed by George Lucas, I lightened up and came to accept Dark Empire and its two sequels as an integral -- and fun -- part of the Expanded Universe.

    The story by Veitch (once you get over the "how dare he?" reaction to it) is so well-written that you wish it had been a pure prose novel. The artwork by Cam Kennedy is innovative and at times almost impressionistic....as far as comics art is concerned I prefer the photo-realistic style of the prequel adaptations, but that doesn't take away from its beauty.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Empire Reborn...
    Since Star Wars creator, George Lucas, stated that his original saga only has six parts, it fell to Dark Horse Comics to further the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, and the rest after the events in Return Of The Jedi and author Tim Zahn's Thrawn trilogy. The story (fully sanctioned by Lucas) in Dark Empire fits into the Star Wars mythos very nicely.

    Six years after Jedi, The ruthless Empire is reborn, under the leadership of a mysterious figure, following the defeat of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This, as the Rebel Alliance restablish order throughout the Galaxy. As the new leader of the empire puts his evil plan into motion, Luke Skywalker, and his allies struggle to figure out what's really going on. Meanwhile, henchmen of Jabba The Hutt, have placed a large bounty on the heads of Han Solo and Leia.

    Writer Tom Veich crafted a story that has a Star Wars feel to it. He has captured the escence of these very well known characters on these pages. While Admiral Thrawn is no Vader or Palpatine, he does make a worthy adversary, just the same. The action, humor, and wonder of the first trilogy are for the most part, recreated here.

    As for the art, I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with Cam Kennedy's renderings of the Star Wars universe. The character likenesses are ok but not as detailed as the book's cover art by Dave Dorman-great stuff. Kennedy makes everything seem just a bit off. For the most part, abstract color combinations, take over most of the panels---this really detracts from book's fine story. The book also contains the story's original outline

    Still, Dark Empire, is a must read for Star Wars fans

    3-0 out of 5 stars This one satisfies your curiosity
    OK, your reading the novels and you wonder why Wedge is driving a large recycler in the opening of a book. Then you read references to the Clone Emperor or resurrected emperor and that Luke once went to the dark side and came back. Dark Empire is where those things happen.

    It is a pretty good story with above average art work. Some of the art is stunning! It was this comic that got me interested in the art of DAVE DORMAN. DAVE IS AMAZING!

    Palpatine gets cloned and has a new super weapon. Luke goes to the dark side to stop the Emperor. Coruscant gets blasted (or is it corresaunt now). Leia, undertrained as she is goes to rescue her brother. The two are never more powerful again.

    After surviving and defeating the resurrected emperor, Leia and luke go back to their old selves in future novels ie: Leia is only barely competitent, and Luke is distracted almost to the point of incompetitence at times (one of my big grips in some books).

    This is the first of 3 comics on this thread. You can skip the other two, but this one is worthwhile. For an additional treat, do a search of "dave dorman art" and check out where-ever he is. You'll like what you find. ... Read more


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