The Dark Knight Returns: 2013 Book #35

The Dark Knight Returns

3 of 5 stars

This trade fell in the same camp as “Old Man Logan,” with less enjoyable art and a better storyline. Before you crucify me for not liking Miller’s art over McNiven’s, I did like Sin City and 300’s visuals – most of my problem with The Dark Knight Returns was in the panel choices – at times it seemed like over half of the panels were of news anchors and talking heads describing the story. It would have been find in dribs and drabs, but used as much as it was, it didn’t work for me.

I also found the Batman vs. the mutants and Batman vs. the Joker story arcs to be far more satisfying than Batman vs. Superman – I never got the sense that there was a true conflict between the two of them, more of a begrudging inevitable confrontation that felt more like Bruce Wayne finding a way to make his retirement far more permanent. But the mutant and joker storylines juxtaposed together handled Batman’s “one rule” about not killing people expertly. Layer on an aging, tired Batman, attempting to reconcile what he knows he could do in the past with the limits of his body today, bring him to the realization that he can’t do this forever.

An enjoyable read, and I can see why this particular part of the Batman/Superman canon is so beloved. If the art had worked for me I would have easily been able to rate this much higher.

The Way of Kings: 2013 Book #34

The Way of Kings
3 of 5 stars

This book was like an underdog playoff team that ends up winning it all – it peaked at the right time, the end. Honestly, it probably could have been a few hundred pages shorter (like most epic fantasy series), but for some reason I didn’t enjoy Sanderson’s world building in this effort as much as in his Mistborn series. Both that and Stormlight are heavily magical, but for some reason the Mistborn system felt tight, intriguing and new. This system of stormlight, gemstones and Soulcasters felt gimmicky to me for some reason.

However, Sanderson’s strength is clearly in character building, and it shows in this book. All of the main characters, Kaladin, Dalinar and Shallan are multi-layered, intriguing and their plots all carried me along as I read. Shallan and Jasnah’s arc felt like it could have been better served in their own book, as their storyline never truly crossed with Dalinar and Kaladin, who I’m considering the main characters of the book. Even though in the beginning I found myself disliking the world building, as Sanderson shed the trappings of setting up a world and focused in on character, I came around. And in the end, there was a clear bridge to the rest of the series that was intriguing and will likely make me pick up the second book, even though this book tied up most threads in a satisfying way.

Even with the strong ending and a desire to read the next book, I’m still giving this three stars because it took so long to get there. And if the next book doesn’t carry through with these characters and is essentially another stand-alone set of tales in the same world, I might not give it a chance. But if this set of characters shows up, I’m in.