BATMAN: The Rules of Engagement was the first Tom King Batman TPB (with art by various creators) I genuinely liked (as opposed to, say, The War of Jokes and Riddles). Batman’s engaged to Selina which leads to lots of genuinely enjoyable banter, a battle with Talia al Ghul, shock from the Robins and Bruce and his sweetie going on a double date with the Kents. This was the most lighthearted Batman story I’ve seen in years — so perhaps it’s not surprising that the wedding ain’t going to happen (the Big Twist of the upcoming wedding issue, spoiled by an NYT story).
ABE SAPIENS: Lost Lives by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie and others is a mixed bag of short stories set throughout Abe’s career; “mixed bag” puts it better than most of Abe’s series, ike the previous couple of TPBs. The origin of occultist Gustav Strobl is more interesting than he ever was as an adversary, for instance, but the final story involving Abe’s life as Langdon Caul never really comes to a point. The most noteworthy thing is that setting one story in 2013 forces me to revise the Hellboy Chronology — I had Abe’s transformation into his new form happening a couple of years earlier. I still think 2013 is a little late, but Mignola gets to make the call.
THE BUZZ AND DARKDEVIL by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz collects two miniseries showcasing two of Spider-Girl’s supporting cast (if they were hoping for spinoffs, alas, they did no better than A-Next or Juggernaut. The Buzz is J. Jonah Jameson’s grandson, JJ; when grandpa’s latest attempt to create a new superhero goes as badly awry as all the others, JJ steps into the Buzz suit and begins fighting the bad guys. Darkdevil has a truly loonie origin: son of Spider-Man clone Ben Reilly, transformed when the demon Zarathos tried to possess him, saved by the ghost of Matt Murdock, he now fights crime with his odd mix of spider/demon/Daredevil powers. If only for sheer weirdness, I liked this one better.
#SFWApro. Cover by Sebastian Fumiura, all rights remain with current holder.