Tag Archives: serial killer

From Hell (comic)

From Hell is an epic graphic novel about Jack the Ripper. And when I say epic, I mean it’s fucking epic. It’s a 572-page collaboration between writer Alan Moore and artist Eddie Campbell that combines fact and fiction, truth and speculation, history and fantasy into a dark and gripping story about one of the most notorious serial killers of all time.

Alan Moore did a bunch of research and combined a couple of conspiracy theories to create a coherent storyline. The true identity of Jack the Ripper has never been revealed, but Moore suggests that Queen Victoria’s royal physician, Sir William Gull, was the killer and that he killed the women as part of a royal/Masonic cover-up. Supposedly Prince Albert Victor had a secret affair with a commoner that resulted in the birth of an illegitimate child with royal connections. A few lowly prostitutes know about the child, and they use that information in a blackmail attempt. The queen doesn’t like being blackmailed, so she sent her trusted physician out to remedy the situation by killing them to death. And so Gull did, using his surgical expertise and Masonic beliefs to transform into Jack the Ripper.

This is not a historical textbook about Jack the Ripper. It’s a comic book interpretation of a conspiracy theory that uses a lot of historical figures and actual events that creates a gritty and realistic depiction of Victorian era London. Moore uses a little artistic license to tweak some facts around to support his story, but he doesn’t try to deceive you. The collected trade paperback edition includes over forty pages of notes and annotations that tell you what really happened, what might have happened, and what he made up entirely. He tells you where he got the information, what he was inspired by, and how he came to that conclusion.

Alan Moore’s dark story is perfectly complimented by the scratchy and rough pen-and-ink style of Eddie Campbell. The illustrations are harsh and crude, which adds a sense of hopelessness and despair. From Hell is complicated. It’s not for your average reader. You can’t just read it one time and pretend like you know what it’s about. It’s not just a murder story. It’s about religion, corruption, time, gender, and power. It’s about how fact and fiction are sometimes integral parts of each other. We may never know who Jack the Ripper was, or what his motivations were, but he’s become a symbol and he’ll never be forgotten. Whoever he was.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Batman: The Long Halloween (comic)

The Long Halloween is a semi-sequel to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Writer Jeph Loeb continues the tale of a Gotham City that is still partly controlled by mobsters and gangsters, but more and more crazy Batman villains are starting to make their voices heard. A serial killer is slowly killing off members or the Falcone crime family on holidays and Batman has to find out why. He enters a crime fighting pact with Police Captain James Gordon and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent. Over the course of the 13 issues, Harvey Dent transitions himself from a moral and upstanding person to a psychotic villain known as Two-Face. If that spoiled anything for you, I’m not fucking sorry. Everyone knows that Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face.

A notorious mobster named Carmine “The Roman” Falcone tries to get Bruce Wayne to get the Gotham City Bank to launder money. This sets off a chain of events where Batman starts to investigate that Falcone family, allying with James Gordon and Harvey Dent in an attempt to stop organized crime in Gotham.

On Halloween, Jonny Viti (The Roman’s nephew) is shot and killed by an unknown assassin. Each month the killer returns to wipe out another mobster on a holiday, each victim is associated with the Falcones.

Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Dent become intent on catching the killer, who they start referring to as Holiday. Catwoman is constantly spying on Batman and always seems to be present when he’s meeting with Gordon and Dent, or whenever he’s creeping around at nighttime doing his Batman duties. Haha, Batman doodies. Batman’s not sure which side she is on, but he’s got bigger fish to fry.

Harvey Dent finds a link between the Falcone family and the Wayne family that results in Bruce Wayne getting arrested. That puts a slight damper on Batman’s relationship with Harvey Dent.

The crime war between the Falcones and their rivals, the Maronis reaches the point where Maroni agrees to testify against The Roman. Instead of a damning testimony, he hurls acid into Harvey Dent’s face. And Harvey Dent goes crazy and becomes Two-Face.

So now Batman has a new crazy villain to deal with and he still has to find out who the Holiday killer is. And there are a lot of suspects. And there’s a twist so brace yourselves.

Not only does Batman have to deal with the Falcone mobsters and the Maroni mobsters, but there’s a virtual who’s who of Batman villains that make appearances. Catwoman, the Joker, Two-Face, the Calendar Man, Solomon Grundy, the Scarecrow, the Riddler, the Mad Hatter, and Poison Ivy all show up. Even though there are a few sideshows, the main storyline is tight and focused. Just sit back and enjoy where the story takes you.

Tim Sale’s artwork is gorgeous. Loeb and Sale worked together for a few projects; this is one of their better collaborative efforts (check out Superman for All Seasons for a good Superman read).

If you’ve seen any of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (and I’m assuming you have, because who hasn’t?), then you will notice a lot of things that the movies took from this comic, especially in The Dark Knight. This story is better than The Dark Knight. It’s a murder mystery that can only be solved by the world’s greatest detective and he dresses up like a bat when it’s dark outside.

This is one of the best Batman stories ever. And one of the best comic book stories ever. It’s just a great story period. So read it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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