If this book sounds familiar to Alan Moore fans then it’s no great shock – most of the stories printed here were collected in 2003’s Across the Universe. However, as well as everything that was printed in the previous volume, this book adds two of Moore’s crucial DC Comics stories, both of which helped hone his reputation as a superhero comic writer who’s a cut above the norm.
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is the last Superman story – a ‘what if?’ type scenario that looks at the last days of a Superman who is finally defeated by his enemies. It’s a sharp and stylish piece that pits Superman against an amalgamated Lex Luthor and Brainiac super-villain, and has plenty of surprises in store.
The other addition is The Killing Joke, an otherwise tricky to find Batman story that, along with the work of Frank Miller, helped breathe new life into the character back in the 1980’s and was clearly influential on Tim Burton’s original Batman movie. In it, Batman battles a thoroughly evil version of the Joker as we simultaneously flashback to the moments that turned him from small-time hood to white-faced megalomaniac. You can read our review of the original book here.
The rest of the stories are less influential but fascinating to chart. There’s a clear progression from his work on British weeklies like 2000AD to his big break in American comics with Swamp Thing, which in turn lead on to greats like Watchmen, and these stories show the movement quite clearly.
All told this is an interesting aside that the Moore collector will be drawn to and no doubt amused by, especially those who have had no access to the superior The Killing Joke and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.