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Dave Green's Read Alerts

My hobbies include just about anything, really...except reading, I hate reading! Kidding of course, reading is my favorite hobby! I love not only reading, but creative writing as well. I'm currently working on a novel about a group of paranormal social workers who try to help creatures like themselves cope with being different while also protecting humanity from the more malevolent beings. Other hobbies include music, yoga, comedy clubs, movies, and video games. I read from just about any genre, but my favorites are fantasy/urban fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and graphic novels (that's what us comic-book geeks call them to try to sound more sophisticated). In my secret identity, I work as an accountant for a nonprofit organization . I know...accounting and creative writing don't exactly go together...what can I say, I'm full of contradictions! My rating system: 5 STARS - I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't wait to finish it, yet I also never wanted it to end! 4 STARS - I liked this book an awful lot! It would have been perfect, except for some minor issue or issues that detracted from my overall enjoyment. 3 STARS - I liked this book, but found it somewhat flawed. Probably would not read again, but might still give the author and/or series a second chance. 2 STARS - Overall, a disappointing read for me. It had its moments, but sadly the bad outweighed the good. 1 STAR - I hate the part of my brain that convinced me to read this book!

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Queen and Country: A Gentleman's Game
Greg Rucka
Reblogged from Dave Green's Read Alerts:
Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1: Demon Star - Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Frazer Irving, Andres Guinaldo

Batman may be continuing his global war on crime, but villainess Talia is the true Demon Star of this exciting adventure!

Haunted by visions of a world in flames, Bruce Wayne has transformed Batman from a local hero into a global enterprise. Working to recruit Bat-men and Bat-women from all over the globe to protect their countries, Bruce believes he is on the right path to saving the world. But not everyone believes the world should be saved...some feel the people of the world should rise up to save themselves instead of waiting for some self-proclaimed "hero" to rescue them. Thus begins the Leviathan movement, spearheaded by Talia Al Ghul, longtime nemesis of Batman...as well as the mother of his son! With tentacles in every country, Leviathan promises a new world order...a world where everyone has the tools and weapons necessary to fight against their supposed oppressors, and no one ever needs to rely on some costumed vigilante to say the day. And to ensure her dream of a world without heroes, Talia plans to force Batman to make an impossible choice..."Whichever, you choose, the other dies! Decide, your city, or your son!"
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"Demon Star" picks up immediately where Batman Inc, Volume One left off. Now, usually when I review a book, I try to focus entirely on that book, but I have to break that rule this time, as I need to give some backstory to properly convey exactly why I enjoyed this book so much. Until fairly recently, I actually considered Talia to be a very uninteresting character. She was introduced back in the Batman comics of the 70s, and at first it seemed like Talia might be full of surprises. While at least 90% of Talia's first appearance relegated her to a damsel-in-distress role (a sexist stereotype that was all too common in comics at that time), she did give readers a nice shock at the very end. Holding a gun to her captor, Dr. Darrk (yes, his name really was Dr. Darrk, comics at that time were not only sexist, they were also pretty corny), Darrk sneered that Talia would never shoot him because she was "far too sweet". Instead of allowing Batman to rescue her for like the 50th time that issue, Talia responded by shooting Darrk in the face, and since killing him once wasn't enough for her, she also pushed him into the path of an oncoming train for good measure! It was a classic moment, as it revealed that Talia was not quite what she seemed...and it also revealed that when Talia wants someone dead, she really, really wants them dead!

Soon, we learned that Talia was the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul, a megalomaniac who believes the world is dangerously overpopulated and seeks to eliminate much of the world's population in order to "save" it. While she didn't always seem to share her father's twisted vision (or his total and complete insanity, for that matter), she still worked in his organization to further his cause. Yet, in one of the most forced cases of "insta-love" to ever make it onto the printed page, immediately after meeting Batman, she declared him to be her "beloved", leading to an internal conflict over whether she should side with her father or her lover. On the surface, this internal struggle had the potential to lead to a beautifully-crafted character. Unfortunately, for the next 20-some years, instead of focusing more on Talia herself, her role was completely defined by the two men in her life! Almost every single Talia story followed the same pattern...for the main bulk of the story, she would obey her father's orders without question, then at the last minute just as Batman was about to be defeated, she would betray her father to save her "beloved". In fact, Talia betrayed her father so many times, it almost bordered on self-parody when Ra's was finally betrayed by someone who WASN'T Talia, yet he just automatically assumed she must have done it...
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If Ra's is such a brilliant mastermind, how come he never once figured out to tell Talia the exact OPPOSITE of what his plan was...so when she inevitably betrayed him, Batman would be caught completely off-guard?!?

Talia's ongoing storyline finally took a massive upswing in the late 90s (yes, there were good comics in the 90s, you just had to search really, really hard to find them). It started when a writer named Greg Rucka basically asked the editors at DC, "What if we took the character of Talia, and made her, y'know...not suck?" Since it was something they hadn't tried before, the DC editors agreed. Beginning with the compelling Batman: Death and the Maidens, Talia's role in the DC universe changed. After severing her ties with her father, she took on a more independent role, eventually taking control of Lex Luthor's organization of LexCorp, as well as becoming one of the six major players in consolidating all the villains of the DC universe to form a society to oppose the heroes. Talia also became more formidable as well. Back in the 70s and 80s, while we kept hearing about how Talia was a skilled fighter and a master assassin, she almost never displayed those skills...other than the aforementioned Dr. Daark face-shooting incident. However, modern Talia was frequently seen overpowering her enemies with her strength and cunning!
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Yes, Talia is an expert in martial arts and also a master marksman, but in "The Dark Knight Rises", Christopher Nolan decided to showcase her truck-driving abilities instead...sometimes I think Mr. Nolan may be a tad over-rated!

All of which leads us to my review (admittedly...it took me a while to get here). The reason I loved "Demon Star" so much was because it features the continued evolution of Talia as a worthy nemesis of The Dark Knight! No longer following anyone else's orders, here Talia is seen leading a world-wide movement to further her own agenda. As a result, Talia is far more interesting than she has ever been before. Her motives are complex...while she still wants revenge against Batman for ultimately rejecting her advances, she does also embrace an ideology where she believes the poor should rebel against the rich. Her methods are often ruthless, which makes it all the more chilling to witness that she seems to truly believe the end justifies her means. And adding to Talia's character depth is the role of her own son in Batman's crusade. While Talia's ultimate goal is to kickstart a revolution, it's clear that she is also driven by the betrayal of her son. She wants to punish Batman for supposedly "indoctrinating" their son Damian into his cause, as well as punish Damian himself for turning his back on her. In that brilliant move, the mother-son relationship between Talia and Damian parallels her own father-daughter relationship with Ra's Al Ghul.

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TALIA - "Betraying your own parent to save Batman?!? Damian, where did you learn to do that?" DAMIAN - "You, alright! I learned it by watching you!"

Talia is more twisted and dangerous than ever before...and she's also never been more fascinating! Fun, exciting, and more streamlined than Grant Morrison's work usually is, "Demon Star" is a must-read for all Bat-fans!