Posts tagged “DC

On #fourcomics and That Feeling

Yesterday, writer Jim Zub started a hashtag on Twitter that quickly took off into this glorious internet waterfall of remarkable comics.  There’s lots of great stuff there with both creators and fans chiming in that definitely makes it worth scrolling through the tag.

I did, of course, share my own four.

It started with my older brothers’ comics.  A few Aquaman, but mostly stuff like G.I. Joe and Punisher and I remember one cover that had Nick Fury on it, but I can’t recall if it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic or Howling Commandos or what.  Those ones never appealed to 7-year-old me, but Aquaman … oh my God, Aquaman … with his pretty blonde hair on that cover, so colorful and happy looking—that definitely drew me in.  I would sit and read those comics in the attic when my brothers weren’t home so they didn’t know I was touching them.  And while Aquaman himself was amazing, I eventually met Mera and couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and how fierce.  That is my earliest memory of comics, and when I think about it I still get that same feeling I had when I read them so long ago.  That warm, incredible feeling that something like this could exist—characters like that could exist.  I wish my brothers still had those issues, but none of us have been able to find them for years, and I’m lost as to what happened to them.

I still have my hands on that Ren & Stimpy, which was the first comic I ever consciously chose for myself, picked up off the rack at the comics shop during a trip with my brothers.  Calvin & Hobbes came after, a collection that my sister had and encouraged me to read again and again.  Most of the jokes and brilliance of that book were quite far over my head at the time, but it was still enjoyable and further fueled the addiction.  I just recently asked my sister if I could have that well-loved copy of Calvin, but was met with a resounding no.  (In fact, I think the exact words were “HECK NO, I love that book.”)

As my siblings got older, spent more time being social, and eventually outgrew comics, my access to the good stuff took a big hit.  It wasn’t until my preteen years when I was on a trip with my parents and happened to walk into a bookstore that—shock!—sold comics, that my love for them was reignited.  They had collections of re-printed arcs, and I remember seeing an X-Men cover with Savage Land Rogue on it.  That was the moment it was all over.  The deed was done, the cement block of love walloped me on the head, and I was finished.  I saw that issue and thought I MUST HAVE THIS.

And I did have it.

And it was like a drug.

I was already a huge Rogue fan, having grown up watching the X-Men animated series, so realizing that the story was still going and that I could, in fact, get more of it was life-changing.  I continue to collect X-Men to this day.  And while there’s more to my particular history of comics—working in a comic shop, branching out to genres outside of superhero, even sacrificing comics for a time—the one constant has been that feeling I always get when I pick up a book that speaks to me.  It’s a feeling that no other medium can replicate.  Like going home.

The #fourcomics trend from yesterday gave me that feeling a hundred times over.

I’m scouring eBay for that issue of Aquaman.


Vacation Catch-Up: Thor, Sensation Comics, & More

I’ve spent the last week taking it easy during the holidays and doing my best to catch up on my reading stack.  In the past few days, I have brought myself up to speed on a few titles and some 40 issues of:

Justice League – Meh.  Just … meh.  I wish I could offer something more on this title, but it’s leaving me bored.  Might be time to drop it from my pull list soon, but I’ll finish the current arc first.

Gotham Academy – I hate to say this because I was hoping for so much more, but the writing on this title has let me down.  It’s not BAD—it’s just … a little slow?  The pacing is dragging for me.  And it’s perfectly reasonable that many others would love the type of story they’re telling in Gotham Academy, but for me personally, it’s not hitting.  I anticipated giving the book at least the first full arc to grab me, but I think I already know that it’s not going to fit.  And that’s really a shame, because I LOVE the artwork on this book.  Karl Kerschl’s style is so clean and so lively, and even more exciting when you throw on Geyser and Dave McCaig’s incredible colors—I wanted so badly to fall in love with this book.  But I’m just … not.

Hawkeye – Umm … so, this title is coming back, right?  Because I need this title.  This title has to exist.

Phil Noto's variant cover for the February issue of Inhuman.

Phil Noto’s variant cover for the February issue of Inhuman.

Black Widow – Natasha/X-23 team-up?  Yes, please.  More, please.  Also, my goodness, I cannot explain my love for Phil Noto in any sufficient way for others to fathom.  He is just … I can’t.  I love his work so much, it’s unlike anything else.  I can’t compare him to anyone.  And Marvel just announced that they’re releasing a month’s worth of Phil Noto variant covers in February, which means I’m trouble and will be buying way more titles that month than I need to be….

Thor – LOVE.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  Three issues in and I am OBSESSED with this book.  Everything about it is solid; the writing is spectacular, the artwork is a delight, the colors are captivating.  There is nothing more I could possibly want from this, and I’m so excited for the next issue.

Superman/Wonder Woman – This title was actually fairly decent under Charles Soule—it was better than what I was expecting, and Tony Daniel’s art was crisp and lovely.  But Tomasi’s first issue as of #13 made this book take a giant nose-dive for me, and Mahnke’s artwork is just not my cup of tea.  Wonder Woman’s characterization continues to suffer greatly since the New 52—I don’t know who that person is, but she’s not my Wonder Woman.  But that in itself is a topic for a whole other discussion.

Sensation Comics – This book.  This book is …  just about the only thing keeping my DC fandom afloat at this point.  If post-New 52 Wonder Woman is wrong, then Sensation Comics Wonder Woman is everything RIGHT and everything she should be.  Reading this title is this massive dose of nostalgia, which is kind of weird, right?  Because how can something brand new with different, alternative takes on a character make you feel nostalgic toward said character?  It does, so very much.  I’m not sure I’d do it proper credit in trying to explain, except to say that it’s very clear each writer and artist gets Wonder Woman.  They get her and they love her, and that comes through so obviously in every story—which, I’m sad to say, is not the case in her actual title or in pretty much any other DC book she’s currently in.  It’s a tragic state of affairs.  But if, like me, you want the Wonder Woman you loved before the New 52 destroyed everything she was and everything she stood for, then pick up Sensation Comics.  You won’t regret it.


The Women of Marvel Own NYCC

Some cool female-focused stuff came out of NYCC this weekend.  DC announced that Stephanie Brown is finally making her return to the DCU, and while I want to be over the moon about this, I’m keeping my guard up.  As the New 52 has taught me over and over again, these aren’t the characters I love, but some horribly mangled iterations of them, so I can’t let myself get too excited about Steph just yet.  Not until … I see her.

That said, Marvel took the cake as far as announcements that make me happy.  We already heard a couple of weeks ago that Charles Soule is writing a new She-Hulk book.  As if that weren’t great enough, we’re also getting new Elektra and Black Widow solo titles, and a relaunched Captain Marvel.  That’s on top of the female-centric X-Men and Fearless Defenders books, to boot.

Soule She-HulkDeconnick Captain Marveldmonson Black WidowWells Elektra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reader is very happy indeed.

Except … I did notice something kind of weird.

  • From Stephen Wacker’s Captain Marvel interview on CBR:  “Carol is sort of a blank slate coming out of the recent ‘Enemy Within’ storyline.  So she’s back to trying to find a place for herself.”
  • From Nathan Edmonson’s Black Widow Interview on CBR:  “Without giving too many of our plot turns away, Natasha is a character driven by atonement.  She’s a hero now, but she was a villain, and a dirty one.”
  • From Zeb Wells’ Elektra Inverview on Newsarama:  “Elektra’s in a dark place […] The series will be about her journey to find meaning and maybe start clawing her way towards redemption.”

Is it just me or does that all sound vaguely the same?  That all of these characters are essentially lost and/or trying to make up for who they are or once were?  Particularly regarding Black Widow and Elektra, haven’t we already read these stories of attempted redemption over and over again?  Isn’t it about time those characters get over that trope and move onto something else?

I’m not condemning these titles; in fact I can’t wait to pick them all up.  But I am wary of the possibility of reading something that’s rehashed and stale.  I have a relatively high level of trust in these writers, though, so I guess we’ll find out next year.

  • On the flip side, here’s what Charles Soule had to say about his She-Hulk “She absolutely has problems, just like most of the heroes of the Marvel U, but she chooses to approach them with optimism and good spirit rather than surrendering to the grim and gritty.”

Kind of leaves you with the exact opposite feeling from the others, doesn’t it?  I know which title I’m most looking forward to in 2014.


Quickie: Some Things That Are Happening

Just a quick post–

  • As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie.  And as I said on Twitter this morning, if you’ve seen Man of Steel or any other Zack Snyder movie, I think Ben Affleck should be the least of our worries.  But the haters are out in full force—there are already petitions popping up demanding a re-cast.  Which, is some legit crazy news, right?  Petitions are for important things, like GMO labeling and putting an end to fracking and building a fully operational Death Star.I have to admit, though, that I love it when stuff like this happens, because then the Internet all comes together on a unified quest for utter hilarity that, strangely, kind of renews my faith that everything in general will be okay.  Besides—I remember hearing some uproar back when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, and look how that turned out.  (I mean, aside from the real-life stuff.)

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for that Wonder Woman movie.

  • Speaking of fan rage, Lobo’s getting a redesign!  He’s all New 52’d up—wanna see?  Calm down, though, guys—it’s going to be okay.  Remember what I said above.  Personally, I can’t say I mind this at all, and given what they did to the likes of Amanda Waller and Starfire and Cheshire however many others, it’s only fair the boys should suffer some.  I wonder if DC will actually let this stick.
  • Natalie Dormer is joining The Hunger Games as Cressida.  Woo!  I don’t have much to say about this other than I’m super happy about it.

All right, kids.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.  I’ve been stuck indoors all week at work and/or at home binge-watching seasons of Master Chef; now I’m going to spend the weekend out in the sunshine as much as possible.

xx R


Comics Beat: Denver Comic Con 2013, Jimenez, Perez, Fradon, Kelly Find Wonder Woman ‘Problematic’

Comics Beat did a summary of a really interesting Wonder Woman panel discussion at Denver Comic Con:  http://comicsbeat.com/on-the-scene-denver-comic-con-2013-jimenez-perez-fradon-kelly-find-wonder-woman-problematic/

My favorite piece of this, when talking about adapting Wonder Woman for TV/film:  “In [Phil] Jimenez’s reading of Wonder Woman stories, he sees a figure from whom humanity can learn a great deal, but in proposed adaptations, she has always been reconfigured as a character who needs to learn from humanity.  It’s a fundamental problem, he felt, that dilutes the character’s strengths.”

FRIGGING BINGO.

Many more great points there, so check out the article.

 

 


Updates for a Monday

Hey, gang.  As I’m sure you know by now, Boston Comic Con was in fact forced to cancel at the last minute, due to the manhunt that took place in Boston and the neighboring area on Friday.  My understanding is that the organizers of the con are hoping to be able to reschedule, and ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as they work toward this.  On the bright side, many guests of the con who had already flown in wound up at various other sites on Saturday, such as Comicazi, signing and sketching for free.  I wasn’t able to go to any of these, but I hope some of you did—if you were there and feel like writing to me about how it was, drop me a line and I’ll post your thoughts on the blog.

Some quick updates on what’s happening in my world:

PAX2013

Some of the swag I picked up at PAX East 2013.

Attended:  PAX East, where I got to play a bunch of games, attend panels, and score swag.

Played:  Injustice: Gods Among Us on the PS3.  I’m about 85% of the way through Story Mode.  Unfortunately at this point, I would not recommend spending the $60 for this title.  While the gameplay itself isn’t bad, the story and overall delivery is some of the poorest I have ever come across in a video game.  If you’re really intent on checking it out, give it a bit of time for the price to drop and just play Versus.  I kind of wish I had taken those three hours playing this game over the weekend and spent them reading comics instead.

Currently Reading:  Hawkguy, catching up on Fables trades, and my usual round of weekly webcomics.  If you aren’t reading JL8, you’re missing out something huge.  Also just picked up A Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks and hope to start making my way through those, because I’m …

… Watching:  Game of Thrones.  Obsessively.

Working on:  My next post for CSBG; wedding planning; day job.

Speaking of which … back to work I go.  ‘Til next time.


These things are important because I like them.

Guess what, guys?!  I read, like, twelve comics last week!  That is HUGE for me!  Stuff is really happening!

Here are some things I wanted to share with you until my next post:

The incredible Phil Noto did a staggeringly awesome cover for Journey into Mystery featuring Sif and you need to see it.

Noto Sif JiM

Gorgeous!

Next, more awesomeness:  Peter V. Nguyen’s new DC women print is here and, uh, wow.  It’s too big to embed here and I didn’t want to re-size or scrunch it up, so check it out in full-size glory at the link.

Also, if you followed the 2012 Olympics at all, you might find this as hilarious as I did.  I am totally buying this cover.

 

Finally, one thing I’ve been meaning to mention again since back in July is a project called How i Made the World.  You LGUTMmay recall I linked to the comic earlier this year as an “honorable mention” in the list of web stuff I’d been following.  The artist of the comic, Randy Michaels, was kind enough to send me some of his and writer Liz Plourde’s material that was published in an anthology called Lies Grown Ups Told Me.  That collection wound up winning a Stumptown Comic Arts Award for Best Anthology.  It’s some pretty great stuff, and if you can get your hands on a copy (it seems the print run was low, so that might be a task), I’d highly recommend the read.

But the even better news is that Randy and Liz were awarded the Xeric Grant in July.  They write on their website:

We’d discussed applying for a Xeric grant since we first began work on How i Made the World.  When we heard there would be one final comic book review, we knew we had to apply.  Yet, we also knew the competition would be fierce.  Entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada are judged on “originality, literary and artistic merit, and a sense of commitment to the work.”  […]  Today, we’re thrilled to announce we are the recipients of a 2012 Xeric Award.  The grant is to be used for the printing, advertising, and distribution of our comic book, the pilot issue of How i Made the World.  We’ve enjoyed the comic books of past Xeric recipients for years.  They are among the most entertaining and innovative independent comic books being published, and they are often included in Houghton Mifflin’s annual The Best American Comics.  We’re deeply honored to be among those recognized by the foundation.  We’ll be working on the final stages of our comic and preparing it for press in the coming months.  Stay tuned!  This is only the beginning.

So here’s a late congrats to the team, and I look forward to reading more!

 

 


It’s the Return of Catwoman the Contortionist

DC released their September solicitations this week, and the cover for Catwoman #0 has born reactions that are nothing short of hysterically funny.  Check out this slideshow of mockery that had me just guffawing, the tears streaming down my face.  I’d considered posting my own reaction to the obscene ridiculousness of the cover, but then there are plenty others who have already summed it up, and so eloquently, too.

I almost feel bad for Guillem March.  I’m not sure the anger is really warranted toward him; if anything, the blame and frustration should be placed on the editor who OK’d this.  That editor was not doing their job … or, perhaps this is exactly what they believe their job to be—to spurn enough fury to get the Internet talking, bringing attention to this book, getting Catwoman “out there.”  For all the unbelievably wrong reasons, of course.

But in a week that has seen some other depressing things and disgusting behavior toward women, there’s still at least one thing to celebrate.

Apologies for the massive linkage, but in lieu of reviews this week, this is some important reading.


Craig Davison Art

My last post talked about what a badass Greg Rucka is; if you still need some convincing, here’s a fantastic essay he wrote for io9.  Revel in its triumph.

To follow up on that awesomeness, this week I discovered (through a friend) the magical art of Craig Davison.  Who is Craig Davison, you ask?  Why, he’s this guy!  And his art is beautiful and moving.  I want to buy some gigantic framed prints and hang them throughout my house.  Check these out:

Davison1Davison2

Tell me those aren’t inspiring?  There are many other great ones, as well.  Princess Leia with the hairdryer?  Brilliance.

I haven’t been reading very many new comics lately.  Marvel’s latest event, AvX, coupled with DC’s newest crossover, Court of Owls, is leaving me a little disinterested and disengaged, so I’ve taken to working through some old trades and hardcovers I’ve picked up over the last few months and neglected.  I just finished the first three volumes of Brubaker’s Death of Captain America saga—good stuff.  So good, in fact, that despite already knowing the major plot and ending, I’m still engrossed.  That is the mark of an excellent writer.  Still left in my reading stack is the newest volume of Chew; Marjane Satrapi’s The Sigh; two volumes of Gotham City Sirens; Terry Moore’s complete Echo, and so much more.  I’m having trouble deciding what to read in what order.

Final item—there’s a fun little shoutout to good ol’ Worcester, MA in this week’s The Line it is Drawn on CBR.  See if you can spot it.

That’s all for today—have a great week, and read good comics.


“All we need to do is make sure we keep talking….”

Heeeyyyyyy!  Guess who has had no time to write things?  ME!  Guess who is not at all surprised by this, (I bet)?  YOU!

So rather than do a legit review, I’m just going to talk about anything and nothing … because I would rather make a jabbering post than no post at all.  You’re more than welcome to talk back.

 

So I’ve caught up on the last two issues of Rachel Rising, and oh crap, is Terry Moore freaking me out.  I thought issues 1-3 were creepy … until I read 4 and 5 over the weekend and was taken to a new level of disturbed.  I hope you all are reading this book.  You should have no trouble finding it at That’s E, and as much as I hate promoting digital comics, it was just newly added to Comixology with issue 1 priced at 99 cents, so you have no excuses not to at least try it.  Outside of The Walking Dead, I typically shy away from stuff like this, so the fact I’m still on board here (especially after seeing the cover to issue 9*shudder*), says a lot.

Fatale #2Another AWESOME book I started reading is Ed Brubaker’s Fatale, about which I cannot say enough good things.  Wow.  These are some great comics being made.  When I start to get depressed about stupid gimmicky junk out there, I pick up books like this and my sanity eventually returns.

Speaking of Ed Brubaker and/or, for that matter, gimmicky junk—does Winter Soldier fall into that category?  I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but if Brubaker’s name is on the cover, I can’t imagine it will be bad.  Despite my UTTER HATRED of how they handled Bucky’s “death” in Fear Itself, he’s a great character, and I’m excited to read this new title.

 

All right.  That’s enough about the guys.  Let’s talk about the wimmins.

Did you all read Kelly Thompson’s fantastic article on Comics Should be Good?  Because it’s very, very important that you do.  Check it out here.  Please.

I hear that Mera kicks all kinds of ass in this week’s issue of Aquaman.  This makes me happy.

WOMANTHOLOGY!  I preordered my copy last week and I’m soooooo excited to get my hands on it!  If you have not heard about it, this is a record-breaking Kickstarter grassroots project about women, by women, for everyone.  And it’s going to be phenomenal.  Click the link just there, or check out their Twitter page.

Lastly, even though everyone and their mom has already linked to this, I’m going to link to it, too!  A new trailer for Pixar’s Brave is out, and IT IS AWESOME:  http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/23/new-trailer-poster-for-brave/

Move aside, boys, move aside.

 

That’s all I have this week—check in again soon for more talk about stuff and things.  And in the meantime, you know, comment or e-mail.  It’s fun and I don’t bite that hard.

Have a great weekend, all.
xx R

 


“Epic Fail”

The Nielsen ratings are in for DC’s New 52, and the results are … pretty depressing, though not surprising.

Read about it here.

Kind of rips you apart a little, doesn’t it?

 


Mostly Here…

My, my.  2012 already?  I apologize for leaving you without updates for a couple of weeks, readers.  Hmm … can I call you “Sleepers” from now on?  I kind of like that….

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays.  The end-of-the-year bustle along with some computer issues have kept me away from the blog for a while, but I aim to change that soon.  I just need a working computer and … you know … to actually read some comics.  I had such lofty plans for my Christmas week off—“I’ll do nothing but read!” I said.  “I’ll read all of my backlog and be caught up!”

I’m sure you can guess how well that went.

I have a couple of posts I was working on pre-computer crash, which I’m hoping to recover.  So stick with me.

In the meantime, here’s a quick couple of lists I thought I would do because:  a.) everyone seems to be doing them; b.) I wanted to post something at least somewhat worthwhile; and c.) umm … I guess I don’t really have a point c., but odd numbers always sound better in the flow of a sentence like this.  :)  #grammarnazi

So here we go!  Some 2011 stuff.

 

Favorite Titles of 2011:

1.  Batgirl – The Bryan Q. Miller run, not the current incarnation.  I doubt I have to say much for this one—anyone who has been following my reviews will know my undying love for this title and the heartbreak I felt when it was canceled.  I hear BQM has a new project with DC that will hopefully be announced soon, so I’m keeping my ears to the ground.

Ultimate Spider-Man2.  Ultimate Spider-Man – Miles Morales quickly shot this book to the top of my reading list last year, and I can’t wait to see where the next year’s worth of issues takes him.

3.  Uncanny X-Force – Cannot gush over this book enough.  Cannot do it justice with words alone.

4.  Avengers: The Children’s Crusade – I almost feel guilty putting this on here considering its strange release schedule/lackthereof, but damn it, every time I pick up an issue it’s just GREAT.  It hasn’t let me down, and that consistent quality is sometimes hard to find in comics.  Regardless of lateness, this deserves a “best of” spot.

5.  Princeless – Ooooh … a challenger appears!  I didn’t expect this book to knock me out as quickly as it did, and again, I almost didn’t want to give it a place on this list since only three issues were published last year.  But you know what?  Screw that.  Three issues was all it took to hook me.  Three issues was all it took for me to think of this as an absolute favorite of the entire year.  That’s how much enjoyment I get from Princeless, and I’m happy to give it a nod each time it comes out.  Look for a review of issue three coming soon!

Honorable Mention:  The Walking Dead (read in trade); Fables (read in trade); Rachel Rising

 

Favorite Webcomics of 2011:

1.  Max Overacts – I’ve mentioned Max on the blog before and am completely addicted to this strip.

Lady Sabre2.  Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether – Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett’s new venture has taken off in its first year, and I’m loving every moment of it.  It’s nice to get in on the ground floor of something like this; if you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out.

3.  Gronk – A friend turned me onto this and it hooked me from the start.  It’s soft and it’s sweet and it’s funny and wonderful.

4.  The Abominable Charles Christopher – See number three.

5.  The Trenches – From the guys behind Penny Arcade.  Some geeky fun, and it’s accompanied with hilarious and horrifying narratives submitted by readers.

Honorable Mention:  Let’s Be Friends Again; The Adventures of Superhero Girl (I’m just getting into this one); How I Made the World

 

 

Comic-Related Nerdly Firsts of 2011:

1.  Convention Scene:  I attended both Boston Comic Con and PAX East for the first time last year, and they were both awesome.  Can’t wait for this year’s!

Mortal Kombat 92.  Gaming:  2011 was the year I finally gave in and bought a PlayStation.  Though it hasn’t had as much exercise as I’d’ve liked to have given it over the last couple of months, the initial surge of addiction and the endless rounds of whipping my fiancé in Mortal Kombat over and over were worth the purchase price.  I also just picked up Batman: Arkham City—yay!

3.  Marathoning:  Movie marathons, that is!  I’m kind of anti-Potter, but was forced to watch the entire series of Harry Potter movies for the first time over the course of a couple of weekends, and frankly, I’m glad that’s over.  Other marathons included all six episodes of Star Wars, full seasons of The Big Bang Theory, and … sigh … yes, I’m kind of a Gleek now.  Next up in the Netflix queue:  Pirates of Silicon Valley (never seen it; Fiancé’s choice), episodes of Man vs. Wild, and re-watching Futurama in its entirety.

4.  Podcasting:  As in, listening to them.  Never really been into podcasts until last year when I realized they were a great way to kill time during train commutes.  Awesomed by Comics is the best one.  Ever.  Period.  I’m so sorry I was late to the party.  (And shoutout to my friend Bob for the recommendation!)

5.  Oh damn, this needs to be an odd number.  I’m all out of … umm … oh, I know!  Ugh, very, VERY reluctantly, I have finally decided to join the incredible mass of Twitterers and create an account for the blog.  I did this completely on a whim and haven’t made a single tweet yet, but if you’re so inclined to follow me, you can do so at @coverstosleep.  I’m still tip toe-ing into the water here … so be nice.  :)

 

That’s all I have for now, Sleepers.  See you, hopefully, soon!  Here’s to a great 2012.

– Ravenhaired


Turkey Day Reviews

Captain America #4Captain America #4
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

Awwww, Marvel.  Why?

I started picking up this series because I adore Steve Rogers as a character, and I’d heard such great things about Brubaker’s writing of Cap.  When I read that McNiven was doing the pencils, I jumped all over this like the obsessor that I am.  I looooooooovvvvveee McNiven’s stuff, and to me, him and Cap are a match made in heaven.  This book made me so happy.

I speak in the past tense, because apparently McNiven is no longer on this title as of issue #7.  His replacement?  Alan Davis.

I don’t know if this is a permanent change or if Davis is filling in for a couple of arcs; the solicitations aren’t clear, and the switch doesn’t appear to be addressed in detail anywhere.  I couldn’t give less of a fig for Alan Davis.  I have nothing against him personally and I’m sure he’s a gentleman; it’s just that his art does absolutely nothing for me.  At ALL.  I simply dislike his style, and that’s really gonna kill this book for me.  It’s a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed the four issues to date.

Don’t be fooled by the odd cover (Marvel seems especially preoccupied with phallic concepts lately); what lies beneath the title page here is good stuff.  Brubaker pairs together past and future in a seamless and engaging way, introducing old characters and new to propel the story forward and keep the engine humming.  What makes me particularly happy with Brubaker is his track record in writing female characters—basically, he knows how to.  You might laugh at that, but let’s take a look at his record—Selina Kyle, Black Widow, now Sharon Carter—it is, sadly, shockingly rare to write a string like that without some blunders along the way, but the man does it seemingly effortlessly.  Yes, I’m in love with his Cap, but watching Sharon Carter spar with Baron Zemo and lay an eloquent dropkick on the guy is, let’s face it, pretty damn awesome.  And having McNiven illustrate that wonderfully-constructed scene?  Icing on the ass-kicking cake, my friends.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick around once Alan Davis comes aboard this book.  A part of me wants to drop it out of principle alone; it feels like Marvel can never get their act together as far as keeping creative teams on titles for any longer than a story arc at a time, and that’s bothersome.  Things shouldn’t be that difficult, and as a consumer, I’m looking for consistency.  There are some exceptions—no matter how late Avengers: Children’s Crusade is, I will always buy it, and no matter how many artists come and go on Journey into Mystery, Kieron Gillen will always have my dollar—but this should remain the exception and not the rule.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of enabling.

We’ll see where Cap lands in a couple of months’ time.  Maybe Davis will be off before I know it, replaced with someone else’s work to lure me in against my will, but in order for me to continue buying Captain America at four bucks a pop, I’m gonna need both pieces and I demand better.

 

Birds of Prey #3Birds of Prey #3
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oohhh … ouch.  My pride.  God. I’m so ashamed and my pride is so sore, because … because … I am LOVING THIS BOOK!
 
There—I said it.  And I KNOW what you’re thinking … and I’m so ashamed.  *Hangs head to the floor*

I just … it’s … it’s actually really good.  I read the first issue and I was all begrudging about it, and then I read the second issue and I was like oh … uh oh … maybe this could go somewhere, but NO!  I’M NEVER GONNA ADMIT IT!  And then I read the third issue and … and … oh, Swierczynski’s won me over completely and now I’m scum.  *Sobbing*

What convinced me to keep reading were the rumors that Barbara Gordon would wind up on the team.  If you read my bitter condemnation review of issue one, a huge reason why I decried this book was because the relationship between Dinah and Babs was seemingly being downplayed/ignored/retconned.  But then I kept hearing such positive reviews of the title from critics whose opinions I respect, and all might not be as it seems within the next few issues.  So I read #2 and #3, and … here I am, eating my words.  Mr. Swierczynski, I owe you apology.  Your book just kicked me in the face, and it feels so good.

And wow, Jesus Saiz … I can’t compliment him enough.  His artwork is so skilled and GORGEOUS.  It’s so wonderful and clear and … you know, there’s a scene in this issue with an explosion and Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and Poison Ivy are flung through the air from the force of it.  And—can you believe—not a single contorted spine, not a single sleazy upskirt or shot of cleavage, not a single broken back.  I … I didn’t know comics like this could actually exist!  I LOVE YOU, JESUS SAIZ!  Never, ever change!

So I humbly retract my earlier assessment of this title.  It’s not quite the Birds of Prey I once knew and hoped for; it’s not the team I fell in love with.  But I’m having an easier time now taking THIS team of Birds for what they are, and it’s legitimately good, enjoyable, and fun to read.  With each issue, I’m learning to drop my preconceived notions and favoritism.  No lie, it’s been tough.  I’m all set in my comics ways and stuff, you know?  But for at least the next few issues, I’m on board with this book.  Please, please don’t let me down, Swierczynski.

 

Supergirl #3Supergirl #3
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Mahmud Asrar
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hello, Supergirl—it’s nice to finally meet you.

The Super family of books have always been tough sales for me.  I was never one for Superman; he’s always felt flat to me, and I’d mostly steered clear of his side of the comics racks until last year when I started picking up Jeff Lemire’s Superboy (which I miss desperately).  But Powergirl has never lured me, and Supergirl’s (re-)introduction in the Superman/Batman book a few years ago flew right over my head.  For whatever reason, I just never cared enough to give Kara much of a chance.  With the New 52, I decided I’d change that.

So I picked up the first two issues of this title, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.  A large reason for that is in thanks to the artwork—Mahmud Asrar is, if I may say, pretty incredible.  I don’t think I’ve seen any of his work prior to this, but his soft, watercolory style is a pleasure that leaves my eyes wanting more at the end of every issue.  It’s fluid and beautiful, and I can’t get enough.

Story-wise, this book is conflicting.  On the one hand, I want to say that I’ve enjoyed each read in the moment I’m reading it; on the other hand, I take a step back to think about it and the three issues to date have been extraordinarily decompressed.  I feel like “decompressed” is a word everyone likes to toss around in the comics world these days, so I generally try to avoid it, but it’s very true here.  The first two issues of this title were about Kara crash landing to Earth, being confused, and fighting Superman.  TWO ENTIRE ISSUES of that!  Don’t you think that could have all been accomplished in just one issue?  How many times must we witness Kal and Kara fight and try to “figure things out”?  This aspect of the book—the redundancy and stretching out the story for no reason—bothers me.  If I were a diehard Supergirl fan, I’d be extremely annoyed, because what’s happening to Kara mirrors what’s happening to Barbara over in Batgirl—which is more of the same.  A seemingly unoriginal take.

Despite these criticisms, though, this title is still okay with me overall.  I’m still reading.  Why?  Because I am a new reader of Supergirl, and although I know this story has happened before, I’ve never previously read it myself.  As an experience, it’s still new to me.  I’m finally getting to know a version of Supergirl, and it’s admittedly kind of exciting.  I really want to like her.

So issue three opens up with some backstory regarding Krypton, and we’re finally introduced to a villain for Kara to face on Earth.  I want to say this villain is a bit generic, but Green and Johnson have already managed to make me hate his guts in the span of one issue, so I guess that’s successful.  While we sputter a bit here thanks to that D-word, I’m cautiously optimistic that things will pick up after the first arc.  Green and Johnson always come across well in interviews, expressing enthusiasm for Kara and it sounds like they have some great ideas for this title.  It’s their chance to make her shine, and it’s my chance to let them.  I want to like this—I am liking this, mostly—and I’m hopeful that it only goes upward from here.

 

Until next week, everyone—be safe, and eat lots of turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving


A Mixed Bag of Reviews

I guess my Monday deadline somehow morphed into Thursday….

Hello, readers. Guess what? I read some books! And I have opinions about them! Shocker, I know. Also, I totally lied with half those covers I posted last week. Sorry about that.

 

Batgirl #3Batgirl #3
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I’m sad. :(

I’m sad because I really want to like this title. I really, really do. But it’s so … it’s so … I don’t know how to explain why it isn’t working for me. I guess, when it comes down to it, honestly … it doesn’t feel like Barbara. It just doesn’t feel like her to me. This new role of hers, it’s so … “forced” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s not Barbara—not the one I know—and that’s kind of shocking considering that Barbara Gordon is Gail Simone’s bread and butter. If anyone at all understands that character, it’s Gail—they’re practically interchangeable. Yet, as much as I want this to succeed, it just isn’t firing for me.

I wish I could explain it better … it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. And the writing style … there’s so much narration. That worked in Gail’s Birds of Prey when you needed the POVs of several characters, but it’s not clicking here. There’s too much of it; there’s too much telling and not enough showing. It’s so flat, and I … I don’t know how much more of this I can back. And that makes me so, so sad.

You know what else? I have read this story before. I think that’s what’s really bothering me more than anything here, is that it still feels like we’re going backwards. Which, we are—literally, we’re dialing back the clock in terms of character ages and whatnot, but I also mean to say that we’re going backwards allegorically. The stories and the progressions of these characters have taken giant steps downward. This idea of a character called Batgirl finding her footing—I have read this before. I read it in Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, and I even read it in Chuck Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One. Why am I reading it again? I’m not getting anything different this time, not one bit. Barbara healing and regaining use of her legs is only influencing this story on a very minor level—it isn’t enough to make these issues feel fresh or different. This issue was all about reuniting Batgirl and Nightwing. I should have been moved by it, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I put this book down, blinked a few times, and wondered what was wrong with me for leaving it feeling absolutely nothing.

So … what does one do in this situation? Do I keep reading this in the hope that once the groundwork is laid and some of the setup “fluff” is out of the way, I might have a more interesting story? Might I feel more for this character by issue #13, as opposed to issue #3, and is it even fair to have to wait that long? Ardian Syaf’s artwork has been great. Other than that, I haven’t got much. A part of me doesn’t want to give up on the title, because I do love Barbara and this is apparently the only Barbara that I’m going to get for the foreseeable future. I also have a certain level of faith and respect for Simone, and I want to be able to lean on that. But with every issue of this so far, I’ve only left feeling disappointment. And I never thought I’d say that.

 

Infinite Vacation #3Infinite Vacation #3 (of 5)
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50

 

…And with that, an interesting idea turns into utter horse poop, as Nick Spencer fills this issue with preachy drivel and a needlessly despicable downturn that I guess is meant to be humor. Biggest waste of $3.50. To say I was mortified while reading this on the train is a massive understatement. And to top things off, I read the solicit for #4 to find it isn’t even due on the shelves until April. Buhbye; I’m OUT.

 

 

 

Magneto: Not a Hero #1Magneto: Not a Hero #1 (of 4)
Written by Scottie Young
Illustrated by Clay Mann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I was a little worried when this was first solicited, because with a title like “Not a Hero,” my immediate thoughts were that they were turning Magneto into a villain again. That would be the worst thing you could do to the character in my opinion, and just as bad a regression as Barbara Gordon re-donning the Bat cowl. Magneto has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I’ve always enjoyed him as a villain, but I find I love him even more on the side of the angels. His presence is still so very grey—he’s so ambiguous, and in the hands of a writer who knows how to use it, that’s an invaluable quality. And so I shook my fist at the sky for a bit at the thought that this wonderful drama might be taken away for something as utterly boring as Magneto turning “bad” again. Happily, upon reading this issue, I find that this is not the case. Not yet, anyway.

Our introduction to this story centers around what is something of a storytelling cliché—Magneto is being framed for murder. Exciting, right? Bet you’ve never read anything like that before. It’s okay, though, because there are things here that make up for the questionable originality, and by the end of issue one, we can see that ultimately the story is going to deal with much more than who’s framing Magneto. I have to hand it to Skottie Young—everyone knows him for his great artistic talents, but he’s making a transition to writing here, and he’s not doing a bad job of it at all. It most certainly beats out a majority of the crap you see on the Marvel shelves these days, and rather easily at that. Young has a good handle on the characters in issue one, particularly in a scene that involves Captain America and Iron Man calling out Cyclops and Mags to get their act together. The cliffhanger reveal at the end—I really should have seen it coming. I can’t believe I didn’t. It’s some good stuff.

And Clay Mann on art duties … wow. What can I possibly say to do this guy justice? In a short couple of years, he’s hands-down become one of my favorites, and every book he’s on makes me drool a little bit. He’s wonderful. He’s coming to Boston Comic Con next year, and I am getting a sketch from him if I have to wait in line all weekend. Outstanding.

Did this book blow my mind? No, but it did some things well, did other things great, and was all around an enjoyable read. I wasn’t asking for much more than that.

 

Princeless #1Princeless #1 (of 4)
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Price: $3.99

 

More happiness! Have you seen this little bit of WIN called Princeless #1? Well if you haven’t, then you’re sorely missing out.

It’s soooooo great. It’s so great. I remember reading about this on the internet somewhere and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but then I found it on the shelf and read the first three pages and was like OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Three pages—that’s all it took. And, you know, that’s kind of a big deal in a situation where you’re paying four bucks for a book when you weren’t anticipating having the expense at all. But this was so worth it, and I absolutely can’t wait to have the next issue in my hands.

This is a story about a princess named Adrienne who grows up being read stories about other princesses who get locked up in towers and have to be rescued by handsome princes who slay dragons and ultimately win the princesses’ hearts. Adrienne is baffled and outraged by this idea, criticizing and belittling the stories, and makes her mother promise her not to lock her up in a tower, only … of course you know that’s exactly what happens, right? The resulting scenario is nothing short of hilarious, adorable, brave, and pretty much unlike anything else on the comic racks right now. Whitley’s writing is beyond clever, and I found myself laughing at something on every page of the book. It’s smart enough for adults to enjoy, yet still written with a young audience in mind. This is exactly the type of thing you should be giving to the little girls in your life. Introduce them to comics now, with this. And actually, I take that back—it isn’t just for little girls; not even close. Adrienne is not the only character in this book—don’t let the “princess” thing fool you. Boys will enjoy this as well, and I encourage you to pick it up to find out why.

If I could get you to read one book and only one book this week, I would give you Princeless #1, and I wouldn’t even blink.

 

Uncanny X-Force #17Uncanny X-Force #17
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jerome Ope
ña
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

 

Since the debut of this title, I’ve had nothing but praise for Uncanny X-Force and Rick Remender. That hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t see it on horizon any time soon. Just when I think the story has reached a plateau and couldn’t possibly get any better, another issue comes out and BAM—I’m smacked in the face with the awesome.

The problem with loving a book this much is that it makes it insanely difficult to review. When you have no criticisms, there isn’t much left to say beyond shameless, unabashed gushing. And you have to admit, that’s kind of boring to read.

But I literally have nothing bad to say. There is nothing I would change about this book—not a thing. Not the writing, not the pencils, not the pacing, not the colors. Well … I suppose I might change the price … and maybe I’d make it ship twice a month, because I can’t get enough of it. But that’s all. Not much to ask.

If you’ve been subbing to this title, you know that Remender has been building up the Dark Angel Saga for quite some time—since day one, in fact. It’s some of the most well-timed and patient writing I’ve seen in recent memory. The thing I love about this book is that when I pick up an issue, I can tell that Remender has taken his time with it. He isn’t writing with collected editions in mind or decompressing the story, as one might accuse of Bendis’ Avengers titles. No; there’s a level of thought and care and precision to what Remender does, and it comes through in his scenes and character interplay. It’s harmonious. It’s a melody to which I never want to stop listening. If even a quarter of the other books Marvel puts out demonstrated this much attention to their craft, I’d be a much happier comics reader.

Jerome Opeña on art is no different. You look at these pages, and you know instantly that these babies were not rushed to meet looming deadlines. Opeña is careful, crafty, and deliberate, and the results are a joy.

On the surface, this is a black ops book. It’s assassinations and unspeakable deeds; it’s an X-Men book that’s not very X-Men-like. But read deeper, and you know these characters are about much more than that. This isn’t just about taking out threats before they become threats; this is a story of addiction, inferiority, self-worth and self-hate, fear and perceived altruism … and so much more. But Remender lets you figure that out for yourself; it’s underlying, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I love that. The mark of a good writer.

Big changes are coming up for this team, and I can’t wait to find out what Remender has planned for the next year of this book. Best one on the X-shelf.

 


New post, coming soon!

I haven’t picked up my comics yet and am falling behind on some books, so bear with me as I take the next day or two to try and catch up.  Here are some covers to books I am thinking of reviewing this week.  Maybe I’ll review all of them … maybe I’ll review none of them.  Maybe I’m faking you out with one or two.  Tune in to find out!  Hoping to have stuff up by Sunday/Monday.

In the meantime, have a great weekend, everyone.

Uncanny X-Force #17Swamp Thing #3Magneto: Not a Hero #1Batgirl #3Action Comics #3Avenging Spider-Man #1


So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

Could anyone tell me what’s missing from this otherwise exquisite bottle of Justice League body wash?

Justice League Body Wash

I guess, from the fact there is no female pictured in this group, that the body wash is meant for boys only.  Which is confusing.  It doesn’t actually say that anywhere on the bottle, that it’s intended for boys.  I guess we’re just supposed to gather that from the picture.  Again, it makes no sense.  And now that I think about it, is there a scent out there that’s specifically made for boys soaps?  What is it?

Oh well.  On the bright side, at least it’s paraben free.  Disney Princesses for the rest of us.


Pull List, a New 52 Experiment, & Reviews

I hope everyone kept safe during Snowtober and that everyone has their power back.  We’re kicking things off early, huh, New England?  Good thing I have a gigantic threatening stack of reading to do while stuck indoors.

I have a triple-sectioned post for you this week.  I haven’t done a pull list in a while, so let’s start with that.  Then I’m going to talk about something else for a little bit, and then I’m going to do some reviews.  But first, I just wanted to say this:  thanks for reading.  You, right there, staring at your monitor.  Thank you for taking the time to click into this blog and follow my bizarre little posts every week.  It’s nice to know people are continually reading this week after week, so despite my crippling self-doubt, I guess I must be doing something right.  You all make my heart all warm and fuzzy inside, and when I close my eyes, I see rainbows and unicorns…

Uh … I mean.  Yeah, whatever.  Cool.  Thanks for the hits.

 

… PULL LIST!

Action Comics #3 – I haven’t gotten to issue two of this yet.  Falling behind….

Animal Man #3 – See above.  Sadness.

Swamp Thing #3 – Funny enough, I did read issue two, and as much as I was all over issue one, the story’s feeling a bit lackluster now.  I still dig Yanick Paquette and Scott Snyder like nobody’s business—it’s not necessarily the creators’ fault—I think it’s just that maybe I’m not as into Swamp Thing as I thought I could be.  Eehhhh … I don’t know.  Should I stick around?  Convince me.Infinite Vacation #3

Infinite Vacation #3 – WWWWHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA???!!  Is this … do my eyes deceive me?  Is this REALLY, FINALLY out?!  Do I want to support this book after its RIDICULOUS lateness?  Tell you what, issue three—I’ll give you a go.  But this is your last chance.  Get your act together, or you’re off the list for good.

Fear Itself #7.1 – I don’t … what?  I don’t understand what’s happening anymore.  WHAT is with all of this “point one” garbage?  What is this all about?  Why is this still going on?  Geez.  I genuinely do not understand the thinking behind this wacko numbering.  Why is it not Fear Itself #8?  Why are we … God.  Also—and I almost can’t bear to address it, but I’m going to—there’s a new title spinning out of Fear Itself.  Want to know what it is?  … Are you sure?  Be warned, this is one gigantic SPOILER.

Fear Itself Fearless #2 – Wait, hang on.  Why is this on my pull list?  I don’t know what this is.

Mystic #4 – Awww, Mystic.  I’m gonna miss you.  I’m glad I get to look forward to you this week.  Thank you for giving me some fun and some magic in a pull list that’s otherwise mostly full of failure.

Shame Itself #1Shame Itself #1 – So I read the page previews of this on CBR and laughed so hard at the re-cap page.  This is definitely coming home with me.  Glad to see Marvel poking some fun at themselves.

Uncanny X-Men #1 – Still haven’t finished reading Schism yet.  Should I even bother?  It’s gotten some fairly bad reviews and I’m SO BEHIND.

Villains for Hire Point One #1 – I’ll be picking this up because I’ve been enjoying the Heroes for Hire book lately, but … *stares at title* … I just … I give up.

X-23 #16 – Hooray!  This should be good.  Marjorie Liu doesn’t let me down and Phil Noto makes me happy because his stuff’s consistently out of this world.  X-23 FTW.  We end on a high.

 

 

Detective Comics #1

Would Detective Comics #1 prove to be a teenage boy's gateway drug?

A NEW 52 MINI EXPERIMENT

I have a nephew named Alex.  He was the cutest thing when he was a tiny little kid—he was like my little buddy and I would take him to the comic shop and buy him comics and packages of Airheads taffy.  Naturally, this made me his favorite aunt, a title I still proudly hold.  He hated reading, but giving him comics was a great way of tricking him into doing so and making it fun.  He loved the Marvel heroes, and on the weekends that he stayed over, we would watch the animated Spider-Man or X-Men shows and bond in this fun little geek world of comics characters.

That nephew is now an angsty teenager, and having long fallen away from comics (there are no comic shops near where he lives), is more interested in girls, basketball, and his PS3 these days.  So when his birthday rolled around this past month, I decided I would try a little experiment.  I thought there would be no better time to bring him back into the comics fold than now.  And my weapon of choice?  None other than the New 52.

I was banking on buying him a handful of new titles that I thought he’d like, and went into the comic shop looking for specific books.  Unfortunately, we ran out of a number of titles, and since I had put off buying him this stuff until the absolute last minute, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for re-prints.  So I made do with what I found, which was the following:  Aquaman #1 (a good, easy read); Detective Comics #1 (dark and violent, right up any teenage boy’s alley); and Justice League #1 (a no-brainer).  Since I also had already bought other gifts for him too, I couldn’t afford to pick up too many books.  I thought the new Superboy might be a hit for him as well as he loved the Smallville TV series, but the store had sold out.  What else would a kid his age like?  Blackhawks?  No copies left.  Red Hood & the Outlaws?  Hahaahaa, yeah, NO.  I went over to the Marvel shelves instead and picked up Captain America #1.  He loved the Cap movie; I was hoping this would get equally good results.  Plus, it would provide for some publisher comparison.

He got the issues on his birthday and seemed interested.  I didn’t give him any background information.  I didn’t tell him about the relaunch; didn’t explain that everything was starting over.  I just told him to read.

A couple of weeks later, it was time for follow-up.  I texted him and asked if he’d read any of the titles.  Response was positive.

TextConvo

I told him to read the last book, Captain America, and that I’d call him to talk about it.  When all the issues were read, we had a conversation.  He told me that he’d really loved “the Batman one” and that he was dying to see what happened next (the infamous Joker cliffhanger).  Aquaman was funny—he liked it, but it confused him a little.  I explained some of the inside jokes, and told him that Aquaman had a pretty pathetic reputation—which made him laugh more, and the new understanding added to his enjoyment of the book.  Lastly there was Justice League … he was hesitant about this one, but couldn’t explain his confusion or what was off about it.  And that’s when I told him about the reboot.

“The Justice League has never met each other prior to this,” I explained.

“Huh?”  He had seen the Justice League together before.  He’d seen the comics.  He knew that Batman and Superman were friends.

“They’re starting everything all over again.  This is all brand new.  Forget about what you read before—it didn’t happen.  They’re starting all over again,” I said.

“WHAT?!?  WHY?”  Even as someone who hadn’t read a comic in years, he was dumbfounded by the concept.

“To get to YOU!” I answered.

The discussion that followed was pretty interesting.  I tried, as rationally and objectively as possible, to explain the theory behind the New 52, and confessed that I had essentially used him as my guinea pig—which didn’t seem to bother him (he got free comics out of the deal, after all).  As Marvel had not done anything different to their line of books, I asked him what he thought of Captain America in comparison.  He said that he enjoyed it, but he didn’t understand it as much as the other books.  Peggy’s funeral in the beginning; Sharon Carter, Baron Zemo—these were characters he didn’t know, and after reading the first issue, he still felt like he was missing a lot.  He liked it, but was less inclined to pick up future issues than he was with the DC books.

Kind of fascinating, huh?

The real question now is to see whether or not he enjoyed this enough to go out and buy future issues on his own.  But if the choice comes down to a slew of number two books or a copy of Arkham City on the PS3 … well.  I’m pretty sure he’s about halfway through the game already.

Experiment status:  I’m cataloguing this one a tentative failure.

 

REVIEWS!

Wonder Woman #2Wonder Woman #2
Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Cliff Chiang
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

You’ll recall that I was pretty annoyed a couple of weeks ago by the spoilery story announcement that Diana is apparently a daughter of Zeus.  My level of geek rage had spiked pretty high at that little nugget, and I really wasn’t sure how wise it was going to be for me to continue to follow Azzarello’s run on this book.  I think, though, that this is just another instance of media and solicitations ruining what may otherwise prove to be a very decent story.  When I picked up issue two, fully knowing the reveal that would come, I assumed I would hate everything else about the story as well.

But I didn’t.

Much as it bruises me to admit, this was still a damn great issue, and Azzarello is still weaving a damn good story, despite my reservations.  And had DC allowed me to find out the big news as I were reading the issue rather than spoil it for me beforehand out of context, I might have actually been okay.

You could have spared me the rage, guys.  My blood pressure—she’s not so good.

Kidding, of course.  In all seriousness, the in-story reveal was a million times better than DC’s press attempts for shock and awe, and I’m slowly trying to have a bit more faith in the writer here.  He did an excellent job of setting things up before dropping the proverbial bomb at the end of the issue, and it was done in a way that felt organic as opposed to contrived.  He even made sure to address the “born of clay” origin, rather than ignoring it and wiping it away completely, as I’d feared would be the case.  Given that this is the essence of her character and her story, it’s kind of a big deal.

Wonder Woman fans have, over the years, built up a reputation for being … let’s call it “high-strung.”  We’re overly picky.  Some of us are traditionalists.  All of us demand perfection, and we may take it to extremes.  But when you’ve watched a character you love get the short end of the stick over and over and over again; when you’ve watched writers mistreat her, misunderstand her, and/or flat out despise her; when this incredible character, this one-third of the all-mighty “Trinity” gets her panel time cut down in favor of the freaking Green Lantern, you tend to get a little overprotective.  We’re fed up.

I think—I hope—Azzarello gets that.  And I think—I hope—he’s righting the ship.  I’m still on for the ride to wherever he’s steering it.

Also, one more thing—Hippolyta is so totally awesome no matter her hair color.

Also, one more more thing—Cliff Chiang rocks my world.

 

Justice League Dark #2Justice League Dark #2
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Mikel Janin
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

Was soooooooooooo not going to read this book.  I generally don’t care for magic-using characters of any kind, and it’s a point of contention between Fiancé and I.  If I’m playing a video game and I can make my own character, I’m going for the badass warrior with weapons galore and insane melee skills—you know, get all up in the action.  Fiancé, on the other hand, prefers to don some cheap cloth robe and fire-bomb the heck out of people from a very safe distance.

Opposites attract, I guess.

That said, the idea of a book centering heavily around the use of magic and magical characters didn’t exactly pull me in.  Not to mention the fact that I didn’t know who half of these people where.  Shade, what?  Who’s that?  It’s safe to say I’ve never read a single issue of anything bearing John Constantine’s name.  Heck, even Zatanna—a character who I bet you’d think I’d be all about—doesn’t draw me in.  I tolerate Zatanna, but I’m not a Zatanna fan.

Not yet.  With Justice League Dark now on my pull list, I can see this changing very soon.

I wish I could put my finger on just what it is that’s making this book so special to me, but I’m honestly not sure I know.  It isn’t one particular thing—it really isn’t blowing my mind in one area.  It’s just a combination of things, the ingredients of a comic book that are all done well and come together to give you something worth your appreciation.  And it’s all enveloped in this ominous, foreboding overtone that’s just enough to entice and not enough to overbear.

Issue #2 continues to bring together our cast of characters in the lead up to a presumable face-off against the Enchantress; we get a striking introduction to John Constantine, and Milligan brings in Dove and Deadman to aid June Moon from last issue.  The title so far has worked almost in a series of vignettes with each character, but it’s interesting because none of them are all that self-contained.  Each character piece is weaved into the overall story, and with Madame Xanadu overlooking everyone and pulling the strings, there are some very intriguing elements indeed.

Mikel Janin on art further sets this book apart from the pack.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of his other work, and he has this painted style that’s just lovely.  I came into this title fully intent on finding any reason to hate it, but it seems neither creator wants to let me.  And that’s so, so exciting and great.  The groundwork is being laid, and I can’t wait to see the storm that’s coming ahead.  This book is worth a shot.

 

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Sara Pichelli
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

With this incarnation of Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel has me subscribed to a Spider-Man title for the first time in my life.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

There’s a lot to be said for Miles Morales, but I’m certain you’ve already heard it all.  In the media storm that ensued following Marvel’s announcement they were killing off Ultimate Peter Parker and putting someone new under the mask, further fueled by Miles’ big reveal, there’s nothing the internets hasn’t already addressed.  I have nothing new to add to the conversation; I just want to say that I think this is absolutely awesome, amazing, wonderful, inspiring, and YES, MARVEL—YOU DONE GOOD!

Now, about this issue.  I loved the heck out of it.  Issue one was good.  Issue two was better.  Issue three?  Still kicking it up, and it is so damn fun to watch all of this … newness … unfold.  HEY, DC—THIS IS HOW YOU DO “NEW.”

I … I want to summarize the issue, but I also don’t want to spoil it.  In short, Miles is learning more about his new powers.  He’s also getting braver and putting them to the test in some very risky situations.  He’s also starting his new school and making new friends (or potential villains, I wonder?).  It all ends on a big cliffhanger that is just so well done structurally that … well.  Good job, Mr. Bendis.  I know I like to rag on you from time to time, but I have to tip my hat and give credit where credit is due.  You get a gold star.

Also, HOLY COW, SARA PICHELLI.  Is this woman freaking amazing or what?  I thought her stuff was good before, but I feel like I am actually witnessing her skills grow.  Woman is on fire.  I absolutely cannot see anyone else drawing this book now.  I hope the Bendis/Pichelli run is a very, very long one.  I hope it’s on par with Bendis/Bagley, because I’m not sure I could bear to see this book under anyone else’s care.  Absolutely wonderful.  I can’t stress it enough.

GO BUY ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN RIGHT NOW.

 

Okay, I think that’s enough.  Hopefully the super long length of this post has made up for my lack of posting the last couple of weeks.  Either that, or I just bored you to death and drove you further away.  Time to imagine that unicorn again.

Have a great weekend, gang.

All About Unicorns


Some Griping, Some Reviews

Man.  I’m really kinda hatin’ on DC right now.  At some point after my post a couple of months ago about how I was going to try to be all positive and optimistic about DC, I read a bunch of crap that I didn’t like, and I’m back to being all cantankerous again.  The latest thing to get me riled up into a ball of rage is the news about Wonder Woman.  They’re changing (read: retconning) her origin.  I was all ready to jump on the Brian Azzarello band wagon here and proclaim him Wondy’s savior until I heard this.

I think this is all part of the cause of my not reading comics lately.  I’m just kind of sick of all the hype, and it’s EVERYWHERE.  Running to the Marvel shelves is no different, as almost everything I see is slathered with a “Fear Itself” label.  Can we come right out and admit that the story is awful?  It’s not a good event, if there is such a thing.  It’s just plain bad, and reeks of being haphazardly put together.  The only thing tied to Fear Itself that I’m even remotely interested in is Journey into Mystery, and that’s because that book is awesome no matter what.  Kieron Gillen is writing the heck out of that.

I have to think aloud and wonder if perhaps the fight against the hype is a losing battle—it’s essentially become the nature of comics, but I’m not convinced it should be.  Just tell a good story, guys.  That’s all anybody wants.  Amirite?

No?  Okay, fine, I’ll shut up.  Reviews!

 

Huntress #1Huntress #1 (of 6)
Written by Paul Levitz
Illustrated by Marcus To
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

HUUUNNNNTTTRRREEESSSSSS.  I love the Huntress.  What’s not to love about her?  She’s Italian, she has pretty black hair, and she’s a total badass.  I was eager to get my Huntress fix when they announced this six-issue mini.  Gotta admit, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down—the frightening Guillem March cover leaves much to be desired, and I wasn’t hugely confident in Paul Levitz behind the pen despite being her creator (kinda).  It was kind of a “YAAYYY HUNTREEESSSS … oh, wait.  What?” reaction, which seems to be the case a lot with DC and me these days.

Anyway.  I read this, and you know what?  The art was AWESOME.  It’s the first thing that hit me and it’s the best part of the book, hands-down.  Marcus To, I had no idea who you were before this, but count me amongst the legion of fans I’m certain you’ve secured after KILLING IT on this.  Helena has never looked so good.  Like, literally—and I’m wicked going to be a girl here—some of the outfits To draws her in are simple and elegant and fashionable, I was like “Where can I buy that?  That’s awesome.”  Then he throws on her Huntress uniform and she’s another person entirely, and it brings even more of the awesome.  Especially when she’s kicking some dude in the jaw.  Kick it, Huntress!  The choreography in one of the fight scenes is so perfectly illustrated—along with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman #1, I would say they’re the two best fight scenes I’ve seen in a while.  Top this book off with a head nod to the colorist, because the colors were beautiful and makes To look that much more talented.

So the art’s great.  The story?  Meh.  Okay, it’s maybe a little better than “meh.”  It’s actually not bad at all, it’s just not particularly ground-breaking.  Huntress goes to Italy to break up a slave ring/drug ring/what-have-you.  We’ve read this story before, right?  So it’s really not baaaddddd, it’s just … well, it’s just what it is.  I will say that the first issue lays a groundwork that’s full of potential, and the next five issues could very well turn up the heat and hit us with a surprise or two.  I hope they do, because I’ll go as far as to say this was one of the New 52 I’ve actually really liked.  In a sea of mediocre, I liked this.  Let’s build off that, please, Mr. Levitz.

 

Mystic #3Mystic #3 (of 4)
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by David Lopez
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Mystic.  We continue where we left off in number two, with lessons in the mystic arts and that witchy mean girl whose name I forget trying to sabotage the main character at every turn.  I enjoyed the heck out of the first two issues of this, but issue three seemed to hit a lull somehow.  Actually, that’s not really fair … it’s not so much a “lull” as it’s just that I can tell the story is being rushed and condensed to accommodate the fact there’s only four issues in which to tell it.  The snag was bound to be somewhere, and it feels like it’s right here.  When you reach the last page and realize the conclusion is coming up next, it’s kind of hard to take.  There’s SO MUCH MORE we could be reading here.  You can tell that G. Willow Wilson has put a lot of thought into this world and these characters, and it feels terribly unfair that we won’t get to explore any more of it as of next month.

So that makes me frown a bit.  I know it’s all going to unravel too quickly as of issue four.  I wish that weren’t a basis of judgment on this issue, but it is.  Still, as little story as we’re getting, I’ll gladly take it over no story at all.

Not to mention there is always the saving grace that is David Lopez.  I can’t get over how wonderful his stuff is here.  Forget about all of the mechanics of drafting a comic book page—forget about all the transitions, the backgrounds, the panels.  Let’s just talk about facial expressions, because that one skill alone is what absolutely MAKES this book.  Lopez is an undisputed master of facial expressions, and as such, the emotions of each character come at you unapologetically.  And it’s so, so good.  You know something?  If you were to take out all the speech bubbles and all the text on every page, I bet you’d still know exactly what was going on in the story.  That is the mark of an excellent artist, and Mr. Lopez is at the top of his game here.  I adore him for it.  If the narrative of the next issue were to completely tank, I’d still love this for the artwork alone.

I’ll be sad when it’s over, but after Mystic concludes, I’d follow these two creators anywhere.

 

Rachel Rising #2Rachel Rising #2
Created by Terry Moore
Publisher:  Abstract Studios
Price:  $3.99

 

I remember reading an interview with Terry Moore that announced Rachel Rising as his newest project.  In the interview, Mr. Moore discussed his desire to do a horror book—something scary and haunting, and I remember thinking to myself … really?  Terry Moore doing a horror book?

I wasn’t convinced it would work.  Nothing against the guy—in fact I have proclaimed my undying love for him here before—but I just couldn’t picture it based on his previous work.

I stand corrected.

This is creepy as &@%$.

Wow.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy in a good way.  In an excellent way.  Aside from one or two things (Walking Dead), I generally despise horror as a genre.  But, this is Terry Moore, so of course I gravitate to it.  And rightly so, because Rachel Rising, thus far, is great.

I’d typed up this whole big thing summarizing the greater parts of this issue, but then I re-read what I’d typed and couldn’t think of a way to get it across to you without ruining some of the suspense and build up.  So I’m going to completely dump that and just let you judge for yourselves.  Hopefully you’re picking this up.  Unlike some of the stuff by the Big Two, it’s actually worth the $3.99.


A Bunch’a Stuffs!

The weather is changing and it’s turning to that time of year I despise—COLD.  Cold means that the battles between Captain Couch and I have intensified.  We’ve thrown down a lot since September and he’s just been out of control.  I’m way out of shape.  Dude has been beating me senseless every single night, and no amount of comics can hold him at bay.  As a result, my nights lately have consisted of bad television and passing out unconscious by like eight p.m. (if I make it that far).  Reading comics has fallen distressingly by the wayside.  One of these days I’ll take a photo of my “to read” piles of issues and trades and post them here for your viewing horror.  “Piles” probably isn’t even a fair word.  More like “mountain chains.”  Some people dream of climbing K2.  I just dream of scaling down my comics.

Let’s get some stuff out of the way.

  • Here’s what Star Sapphire looks like in the upcoming animated movie, Justice League: Doomhttp://www.comicbookresources.com/prev_img.php?disp=img&pid=1317735495
    After the debacle a few weeks ago about Starfire, it’s good to see we’re moving forward, DC.
  • On the flip side, Robot 6 has a rather humorous strip wrapping up the New 52 from the perspectives of the characters.  Very fun.
  • Speaking of strips, do you like web comics?  Have you heard of Max Overacts?  No?  Well you should check it out, because it’s absolutely wonderful.  The creator, Caanan Grail, is brilliant, and I’ve been addicted to this since I stumbled upon it last month.  Many have compared the strip to Calvin & Hobbes—there’s definitely an echo of that there—but it’s its own thing and so much more.  Start at the beginning and read through the strips; I can’t imagine you’ll be let down.
Max Overacts

A strip from Max Overacts, by Caanan Grail; click to enlarge.

  • Lastly, I hope everyone’s seen the newly-released Avengers trailer, because it’s awesome.

… And that’s all I got!  Back later with some reviews.


It’s a crisis there’s no Crisis!

So apparently Dan Didio said something over Facebook about how none of the Crises ever happened.

Didio on Crisis

Can anyone else make any sense of this?  I must be missing something.  If Final Crisis never happened, then what caused Bruce to “die” and Dick to take up the mantle of Batman?  That’s already been referenced in several books, and Grant Morrison’s run is still technically happening and referencing itself as it goes along, so we know it’s still canon … yet it’s not?  Can anyone help me out here?

He went on to “clarify” (I use the term loosely):

Didio on Crises

Ohhhh, I get it now.

… Except that I don’t.

I would say, given that the entire initiative of the New 52 was to wipe the slate completely clean in order to erase and/or make continuity “less confusing” for new readers, the fact that now we have even MORE of a convoluted backstory to all of this, where neither reader nor editorial apparently knows what’s sticking and what isn’t, means that after only one month of the reboot, it’s already a failure story-wise.  None of this makes any sense.  I can’t say I really expected it to, but it’s making even less sense than I thought it would.  And it’s just plain annoying.  Way to make this stuff up as you go along, guys.

On the bright side, at least Gail Simone still makes me laugh.

Gail Tweet


More of the New 52

I’m having a rough go of this DC stuff, guys.  A real rough go.  If I had to pick one book this week to tell you to avoid like the frigging plague, it would be Teen Titans.  Don’t do it to yourself, readers.  You deserve better.

Aquaman #1Aquaman #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Price:  $2.99

 

While That’s E is my LCS, occasional place of employment, and all-around hub of awesome, working in Boston can make it difficult to swing by store hours during the week to pick up comics.  That activity is typically reserved for the weekend when Boyfriend and I—now Fiancé, hip hip!—have the time to chat with our friends behind the counter, praise the latest works we’ve enjoyed, or talk smack about that week’s failures (at which point hilarity and raucous laughter ensue).  But when Wednesday rolls around and the excitement of new comics fills the air, it can prove hard to wait those extra few days.  That’s when I usually wander around Harvard Square during my lunch hour and inhabit Million Year Picnic, a quirky little hole-in-the-wall shop with cozy shelves and some super nice people running the register who clearly know their comics.  And when I went in there this week, the item I immediately grabbed for a quick read-through was Aquaman #1.

Laugh at me all you want, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Aquaman.  His was the first comic I’d ever read when I was a kid, secretly borrowing my brothers’ comics to read whenever they were out of the house.  I can get into the myriad reasons why I love Aquaman and will defend him ‘til the end, but that’s a topic for another post (which I’ve been working on for like six months and might never see the light of review day).  When DC announced this title, I was actually excited.  Aquaman!  What!?  And not belligerent old hook-hand Aquaman either—no!  This was the young, sexy blonde Aquaman that had made my tiny toddler heart skip a beat (he was so pretty!).  As I flipped through the pages gawking at the beautiful artwork and reading the story, I knew immediately that this would be one of few keepers for the New 52.

Geoff Johns loves Aquaman.  He’s proclaimed as much time and again during interviews, but you don’t need to hear him say that in order to get it.  Reading Aquaman #1 felt very much like Johns’ love letter to Aquaman.  He cares about this character, and we see that from page one.  The entire issue is devoted to building up Aquaman—first with a display of brute strength in the opening pages, followed by a glance at his reputation and insight to what’s in his heart, ultimately ending with a declaration of intent.  And in between it all, it is funny as heck.  I’m not sure a New 52 book has given me as much enjoyment yet as Aquaman did.  I loved this, and if Geoff and Ivan Reis (whose art was ridiculously great) can keep the momentum, I’ll be hooked for the long run.

Uh, no pun intended.

Batwoman #1Batwoman #1
Written by J.H. Williams & Haden Blackman
Illustrated by J.H. Williams
Price:  $2.99

 

I hate it when this happens.  You hear so much hype about a book—it’s built up and talked about everywhere and every review you read is like “THIS IS AMAZING!” and you think, oh my, I can’t wait to be hit with the awesome.  Then you get the book and … the balloon has popped.  To smithereens.  You’re deflated and your pieces are scattered everywhere, and you don’t feel like picking yourself back up.

That’s kind of how I felt after reading this issue.  Despite how gorgeous it was for the eyes—as though anyone would expect any less from J.H. Williams on that—it left me deflated.  Yet, I’m not really sure what my expectations were.  Story-wise, I had none.  I’m not a huge Kate Kane follower, but I liked her enough to sample this.  The only thing I left the issue with, though, was a sizeable dose of confusion.  I haven’t read Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective—the only Batwoman I’d read was the “zero” issue that came out last year or so—and as such, I had no frame of reference for a lot of what was happening in this book.  Whatever happened to “new reader-friendly”?

Could I follow along with this?  Yes.  I could piece together most of what I think I needed to know by the end of the issue.  But was it easy, or even rewarding?  Not really … I didn’t leave it feeling as such.  I’d like to blame that on the fact that J.H Williams, like many on the New 52, is artist-turned-writer.  That’s not an easy transition to make.  I’d also suggest that this title was never actually meant to be part of the New 52—it wasn’t written to entice new readership or be part of this comics-holy endeavor.  It was just a title that kept getting delayed and kept getting delayed and eventually found its way to being a part of this.  I think it’s done some harm.

I’m going to read issue two.  I’ll likely stick out the entire first arc, because I think whatever nitpicks I have with this can certainly be overcome.  I will say that the opening scenes in particular were incredible, and I’m looking for more of that to come.  Overall, the book just didn’t hit me the way I was expecting, and so much of that I’m sure has to do with the internet hype.  Drowning it out for next month.

Birds of Prey #1Birds of Prey #1
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Price:  $2.99

 

Ugh.  I really … I didn’t want to do this.  I staunchly and adamantly shot down this book before it came out; very loudly voiced my hatred at the concept of a new Birds of Prey without Oracle or Huntress or Gail Simone behind the board.  I was NOT going to give this a shot.  But in a week where Catwoman and Starfire were degraded and exploited beyond all comprehension … suddenly, a female team book felt more alluring.  And really, let’s face it—I’m a masochist.  Comics fans in general are absolutely masochists.  We know it’s going to be bad—we know it’s going to hurt, but damn it, we just can’t look away.  We just can’t stop.

So I picked this up.  And … it broke my heart.

First of all, let me get this off my chest:  Dinah’s outfit is absolutely dumb.  Dumbest thing ever.  I will say that I’ve never minded the fishnets in her previous getup—I thought her outfit was fine, and no, I didn’t think she looked like a hooker.  I thought she looked like a badass biker chick, though much of fandom had complained that the fishnets were tacky.  DC’s answer to that, apparently, was to re-tool her costume and add even MORE fishnets?  Up her ARMS, no less?  What the hell, guys.  This is the stuff that makes me want to cuss my head off.  (I’m trying to tone it down—it isn’t easy.)  It’s just the most senseless outfit of all the redesigns, and that’s saying a lot considering there is some genuinely BAD stuff out there.  My eyes … they bleed.

Okay.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this book.  The Birds of Prey, to me, has always been about friendship.  Well, it’s about girls kicking ass too, but mostly, it’s friendship.  The unfailing, strong-in-the-face-of-all-danger, love-you-no-matter-how-many-times-you-screw-up friendship between Dinah and Barbara.  Then Huntress eventually came along and stirred the pot, and the book became even more amazing because the relationships built between the three women was not something that was found in any other DC book, or any other comic book period.  Add Zinda Blake to the mix, and things still kept getting stronger.  Four ladies, four unshakeable ties.  A family.  That was the Birds of Prey.  And I came back for it month after month after month, because it felt like these were my girls.  You find things you relate to and after so many years of a book like this, you build these immensely personal ties and attachment to it.  Not having the Birds anymore—my Birds—is heartwrenching.

This?  If they had called Duane Swierczynski’s version anything else—anything at all other than “Birds of Prey,” I might have actually been able to swallow this.  But I can’t.  I keep looking at this book hoping that it’s what it was—what I want it to be, but it’s not, and I’m not MEANT to look at it that way.  We’re supposed to look at it as something new.  It’s its own thing.  DC is asking us not to compare it to what came before.  But that’s really unfair, and it’s just not something I can do.  DC built this attachment of mine; they gave me a security blanket that I loved and loved, and they can’t expect me to throw it away for some new toy.

I’m genuinely sorry about it, too, because the artwork on this was flawless.  One issue and I am already a huge Jesus Saiz fan.  And as much as I wasn’t crazy about Swierczynski coming on board, I have to give credit where credit is due—he writes a pretty damn good Black Canary.  Maybe even second best to Gail.  Unfortunately, I won’t be sticking around to see what he can do.  He screwed that up for me the moment he introduced Barbara Gordon in this issue for no apparent reason whatsoever outside of raising a million continuity questions that he doesn’t proceed to answer.  I can’t look at this with the new eyes that it needs.  Maybe some day … but for right now, looks like I’m out.

Wonder Woman #1Wonder Woman #1
Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Cliff Chiang
Price:  $2.99

Yeeaaahhh … I have to say, I was really on the fence about this one.  I had no idea what to expect until a few weeks back when I watched this hysterical interview with Brian Azzarello about his run on the book.  He has such utter disdain for the interviewer in it and he’s so frank with his responses that I couldn’t help but be oddly endeared.  Suddenly, any worries I had about the title just kind of fell away.

Despite being turned off by the idea of yet another revamp for Wonder Woman, after over a year of horrible, pedantic, pointless WW issues during the “Odyssey” story arc of Straczynski’s ill-conceived run, I was suddenly DESPERATE for a title re-launch.  Time to kick the lame pants and jacket, adolescent writing, and cheesecake artwork to the curb.  Cliff Chiang on art duties?  GODSEND.  Brian Azzarello writing?  Er … I hadn’t read the guy.  There was a 50/50 chance this could work.

I liked this issue.  It took me two reads, but I liked it.  The first read through was a little rough—Azzarello wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to introduce a “horror” element to Wonder Woman, and at first, it just seemed like a whole bunch of violence and gore.  But on the second read through, the issue took a much better shape, and I caught things I didn’t catch the first time around.  The tone was different, and I actually liked it.  It was hard, but in a good way.  Azzarello re-introduces some of the Greek gods, and for the first time in a long time—maybe ever—they actually come across really cool, powerful, and scary.  When was the last time the gods were actually scary?  They SHOULD be scary.  It’s refreshing to see.  Especially interesting is the fact that this doesn’t feel as “mythological” as it actually is.  You’re not watching the gods walk around in togas and hang out on Olympus the way you did during Greg Rucka’s run (which I loved as well).  It’s not in-your-face ancient mythology.  It’s modern day, and it WORKS.  So much so that I’m surprised.

The story involves a human girl named Zola who has unknowingly gotten herself mixed up in godly affairs—literally—and it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect her from the wrath of who we presume to be Hera and Apollo.  I was very concerned with how Wonder Woman would come across under Azzarello’s pen.  Would she just be a violent Amazonian?  Would she retain any of her compassion?  Would she wear pants?  (Just kidding.)  My favorite renditions of Wonder Woman have always been the loving, empathetic ones—Simone’s and Rucka’s.  An overly violent Wonder Woman goes against the grain of everything the character represents.

That said, she isn’t afraid to kick ass when ass needs kicking.  She isn’t afraid to kill if it’s what must be done (see Maxwell Lord).  And in this issue, Wonder Woman kicks a lot of ass in what is one of the most well-choreographed, beautifully drawn fight scenes I’ve read in ages.  Cliff Chiang kills on this book, illustrating a Wonder Woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but can also show concern where it’s called for.

Did this completely fire on all cylinders for me?  Not entirely.  I have a few nitpicks, to be sure—for example, this being her own title book, it felt oddly as though Wonder Woman somehow wasn’t in it very much.  I also wasn’t crazy about the use of her lasso in one scene, and I feel like some of the dialogue can be tweaked as we move forward.  But overall, this is a HUGE improvement over the garbage Wonder Woman fans have had to suffer through over the past year.  I am most definitely on board here, and the creative team has set my expectations high.  For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait for the next issue of Wonder Woman.


And they wonder why “girls don’t read comics”?

Actually, I should probably change that title to “why MORE girls don’t read comics.”  Clearly, many of us do, although it’s getting increasingly more difficult….

No reviews from me this week, as I haven’t had a chance to read the stuff I wanted to review.  Instead, I leave you with this very striking post from Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance about DC’s latest fail.  It’s worth a read.  Warning that it contains spoilers to Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 and Catwoman #1.  I would also say that some of the imagery might be deemed “NSFW,” which is telling when you figure that the images have only been taken from the aforementioned books.  Kind of messed up, no?

Have a good weekend, all.  Pick up Wonder Woman #1 and the latest Children’s Crusade.


Reviews: Another Round of the New 52

Lots to talk about this week, and lots of changes happening the DCU.  I’ve been torn between what books to try and what to leave on the shelf, and have had to pick and choose what I think might be good enough to mock enjoyable.  I haven’t picked up the latest stuff from this past Wednesday yet, although I am looking forward to Batwoman.  I’ve heard some horrible things this week—namely about Superboy and Suicide Squad (and this about Amanda Waller, which honestly disappoints me to no end), not to mention the latest fuss over the new Birds of Prey, and that flat out makes me want to cry.  I’m trying not to cry, but it might happen.  I’m all cantankerous ‘n’ stuff.  I’ll try to make this quick:

 

Action Comics #1Action Comics #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Rags Morales
Price:  $2.99

 

Well now.  Who’d have thought I’d ever pick up this book?  I’m not a Superman fan, and I’m not really a big Grant Morrison fan either, so it was kind of startling to find myself actually interested in giving this a shot.  But then, how could you not be interested?  After all the controversy of rebooting this title, winding back the clock on Superman, and turning him into a “Bruce Springsteen” version of himself (creator’s words, not mine), it was kind of impossible to shy away.

So I read it.  And … it was weird.  And I don’t really know what to think, other than it feels like I was reading Batman.  Superman comes off extremely belligerent, and it’s just so strange compared to the image of him I have in my head.  I mean, what’s THIS about?

 

Superman Action Comics

(Click to enlarge.)

Right?  Huh?  I don’t know.  I get what’s happening, and I get what Morrison is trying to do, and I fully understand that this is meant to be a “different” Superman or whatever, but I’m not sure it works for me.  I’d give you a plot synopsis, except that I’m on the fence right now as to how much more I’m going to read, so I’ll just say this:  if you’ve been following along in the solicitations and previews, the plot is pretty much what you’d gather.  Mostly.  There are one or two interesting changes I didn’t anticipate, but I’ll leave them for you to discover.

Really undecided here … at the moment I’m leaning toward sticking around to see how it plays out.  I wonder how the standard Superman title will fare in comparison.

 

Animal Man #1Animal Man #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Travel Foreman, Dan Green
Price:  $2.99

 

The only reason I had even a remote interest in this was because I had read a four-page preview quite a while ago that sounded very well-written.  I liked Jeff Lemire’s Superboy a lot, and once I’d heard some praise for this issue after it hit the stands, I grabbed a copy.  I’m glad I did, because this may easily be one of the sleeper hits of the New 52.  I didn’t know squat about Animal Man before picking this up, but Jeff Lemire can apparently write the heck out of an intro issue to a book, so it easily passes the “new-reader friendly” test.

Flat out:  I loved this.  It’s the one and only thing I unsparingly love so far from the new batch of DC.  It’s heartfelt, creative, intelligently written, dark, intriguing, and a host of other things.  Right away, you think to yourself—okay.  It’s a guy who can call upon the characteristics of any animal—that’s neat.  But then you read it and, as a newbie, you realize it’s going to be about so much more than that.  His powers are almost completely secondary.  I don’t want to say any more than that.

Please go pick this up.  Just go buy it.  It’s so freaking cool.

 

Batgirl #1Batgirl #1
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Price:  $2.99

 

Oh man.  This … this was tough for me.  I can’t believe what I’m about to say, but I was actually disappointed by this first issue.  I never thought I’d have reason to utter that about a Gail Simone-penned book, but … I guess there’s a first time for everything.  Ouch.

The thing is, I’m not sure I can even explain to you what it is about this that’s disappointed me.  It hasn’t particularly failed in anything.  It hasn’t really done anything wrong.  It’s actually a very good set up issue, and both Gail and artist Ardian Syaf do a lot of things RIGHT.  So why do I still come off it feeling so lukewarm?

I guess it’s a problem of the lead-up to the book having set up some very high expectations.  I think Gail was put in an impossibly difficult position in being responsible to appease all the fans who are heartbroken over what we perceive to be the loss of the Oracle persona.  But speaking only for myself, I definitely went into this expecting—nay, demanding, answers.  I wanted all the information right off the bat (no pun intended) as far as why/how she’s Batgirl again, how she was healed, was she ever with the Birds of Prey, and whether or not she ever actually was Oracle in this new continuity (supposedly the answer is yes, but we haven’t found out for sure yet).  So when I read through this issue and received basically none of those answers, it was pretty deflating.  That’s not say that Barbara’s past won’t be addressed—I give Gail way more credit than to think she’d brush it all off, and knowing her writing style, she’s going to take her time setting us up.  We’ll get there, sure, but I’m having a hard time being patient.

That disappointment aside, I will say there were definitely things I loved here.  I love the fact that Gail Simone is writing Barbara as a sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, thereby acknowledging her accident and fleshing out the reaction time between what has happened from then until now.  I love the new villain she has created for Barbara, who comes across seriously dark and awesome.  I loved the artwork, and let’s face it—it’s pretty damn cool to see Barbara Gordon swinging around in the Gotham night again.  I have a few reservations about one of the plot choices—Barbara and her new college roommate—but that’s nothing I can’t get past.  So I’m keeping my head down and I’m chugging along with this at least for the remainder of the first story arc, if not more, but I still feel a little twinge of sadness for the Oracle that I knew and miss.  I suspect that will always be there, regardless of how good this title winds up being.

We’ll see what happens next.  I’ll try to abate my sadness in the meantime.

 

Hawk & Dove #1Hawk & Dove
Written by Sterling Gates
Illustrated by Rob Liefeld
Price:  $2.99

 

… BWAHAAHAAHAHAHAAHAAA.  Next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swamp Thing #1Swamp Thing #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Yanick Paquette
Price:  $2.99

 

Swamp Thing.  Another surprise for me.  I’m a fan of Alan Moore and have always intended to go back and read his Swamp Thing, but it’s a little low on the priority reading list at the moment.  When this title was announced, I figured it would be a good introduction of the character for me, and I have a certain level of faith in Scott Snyder’s writing abilities.  I’m please to say he didn’t disappoint here.  The story opens up in a captivating way, and even a new reader can tell that there’s a history to this character.  I have to wonder how much I am actually missing out on by not reading any previous stories, but at the same time, I’m getting enough information here where I don’t NEED to read the earlier stuff.  I don’t need to, but the urge is certainly there.  This is comics done right—this is the way to pick up those “new readers.”  You needn’t ditch years of that “scary” and “intimidating” continuity, because a book like this is what makes you want to go back and learn and read everything you can get your hands on.  It’s really a shame more comics aren’t written in this manner.

The talented Yanick Paquette was clearly made for a book like this.  I was a little disappointed to learn that he’ll be utilizing some fill-in artists in between story arcs, but I’m hoping it won’t detract too much from the book.  Paquette’s style is definitely suited to this book—while his Superman cameo came off kind of weird-looking to me, his version of Swamp Thing is awesome.  Looking forward to issue two.

 

 

Okay, kids, that’s all I have for today.  Be thankful that that crazy Comic Junkie is out of his mind enough to be reading and analyzing every issue of the New 52 over at his blog.  Really, we ought to be thanking him for sparing us some of the torture.

One final thing before I go—don’t forget the Craig Thompson signing is this week at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.  If you’re interested, get your ticket early, and be sure to say hello to me if you’re going to be there.

Until next week!


Review: Justice League #1

Justice League #1Justice League #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Jim Lee
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $3.99

Hmmmmm …  Well, I can tell you that excitement of mine didn’t last too long.

Man.  This was so … it was …

… Hmm.

Okay, here it is:  this was average.

So I’m having a very difficult time forming the words to adequately summarize the issue.  I reiterate—it’s average, and you know, that’s kind of a big problem you don’t want to have when you’re pitching yourself and your entire line of comics very hard to those elusive new readers.  What this should have been was MIND-BLOWINGLY EXCELLENT.  This should have kicked things off with a bang, knocked me out of my chair, and had me smiling like a Cheshire cat for the rest of the day.  But instead I’m … I’m just kind of … confused.

Let’s start with the great:  the artwork.  I am a complete and utter sucker for pretty much anything Jim Lee does, so having him draw this book is a sweet, delicious treat for my superhero-hungry eyeballs.  While I wonder about his ability to produce on a monthly deadline, I will bow to the fact that he delivers here.  I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is only 24 pages of Jim Lee goodness, and I’m all over it.  If I were a smoker, I’d need a puff after staring at the panels in this book.  The final page … oh my God, yes.  I want THAT.  You go, Jim Lee!

Now, unfortunately, the not-so-great:  the story.  You know, only the second most important thing in a comic.  I have not read very much Geoff Johns in my time—I skipped over all that Blackest Night, Brightest Day hoo-ha, so I don’t have a lot to compare this to in terms of his varying levels of talent.  I can only go by what I have in front of me, and what I have here is average.

It’s not necessarily that the story is even that bad.  I just question the route taken here as far as using the first issue to “form” the Justice League.  The story opens up with Batman chasing/being chased by minions of Apokolips.  That’s all well and good, until Batman starts firing some weird missile/projectile weapons from his arms.  I know, right?  What is that about?  We all know Batman doesn’t use guns, and although these are technically not handguns, the page spread certainly brings them to mind.  I’m going on a tangent, but it’s just kind of a weird scene, and it honestly got me off on the wrong foot right away.  Batman eventually meets Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and the two verbally spar as they flee the oncoming authorities … or whatever.  This is five years in the past, you see—a time when vigilante superheroes are not so adored by the public.  We also transition to a couple of separate scenes featuring Vic tor Stone, but frankly, I have no love for Cyborg, so he’s completely unimportant to me.  I’m actually a little peeved that he’s even being set up as a “founder” now.

The reason I wonder why Johns has chosen to tell this story immediately is because, let’s face it—this issue is the Batman/GL show.  That’s entirely all it is.  And while that may be fine for readers like ourselves who know these characters and this history, think about the new reader coming off “the street.”  If this is meant to be accessible to them—if I’m not a comics reader and I decide to wander into a comic shop looking for Justice League #1 because I saw it advertised somewhere and I’m intrigued by this cool-looking cast of characters—how am I going to feel when I pick up that first issue expecting to see a team and not getting one?  How am I going to feel expecting to see Flash or Wonder Woman and not getting either one?  Seasoned comics fans know how misleading covers can be.  Newbies don’t.

So, to me, the way this could have been remedied would have been to open up the first issue with the team already established—maybe they’re fighting some giant dude or whatever, I don’t know—and they’re quipping with each other back and forth, and Batman is his usual brooding but badass self, and Flash is cracking jokes left and right, Superman is eye-beaming something to smithereens, and Wonder Woman’s punching a dude through a wall.  Wouldn’t the action taken here and the dialogue provide the perfect vehicle to demonstrate to you exactly who these people are and how they get along?  Meanwhile, if you so choose—or perhaps you can leave this for the next arc—you can have “flashback” scenes showing all these important first meetings and the formulation of the team.  The best way to learn about these characters and their relationships is to actually see them in action.  It’s all about show, don’t tell.  Johns didn’t need to give us the step-by-step in order for us to get it.  Heck, we could have understood this team without ever seeing them come together at all, and to me, that would have been so much more interesting to just piecemeal it on my own by watching them.

So, it’s not that this was all bad—just that it was average storytelling.  Is that really the best that Geoff Johns has?

I have one more major nitpick here.  When this reboot was announced, we were told that we’d be reading all new stories.  Yes, it’s the story of the Justice League coming together, but it was going to be a new one.  Something we hadn’t read before.  Well, I ask you—doesn’t this

Justice League GL

kind of remind you of this?

AllStarGL

Batman getting blinded by GL’s light.  No?  Okay, how about this

GL Batman

and this?

All Star GL2

GL thinks Batman’s pretty much a jerk either way.  Still not convinced that we’ve seen this meeting before?  I have one more for you.  Take a look at this

GLBats2

against this.

AllStarGL3

Why, look at that.  Green Lantern gets his RING stolen … TWICE?!  Yeahbuhwhaaa?!?!

The first photos in each set are from this week’s issue of Justice League.  The second photos in each set are courtesy of Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin from just a few years ago.  It’s déjà vu all over again, and I’m afraid you’re going to have to do much better than this to keep my interest, DC.  I suppose I should expect Superman’s first meeting with Wonder Woman to be a ridiculous fight that ends with an even more ridiculous kiss, based on what we’re going for here.  I mean … that’s what happened in All-Star, isn’t it?

By the way, I bought the standard shelf issue of this comic book, as I will with any other.  The polybagged combo pack with downloadable copy just isn’t for me.  I have a huge stigma against the idea of digital comics, but that’s a post for another day.  Ultimately, Justice League #1 was an okay read, but it didn’t blast through any ceilings.  Here’s hoping the following 51 offer something better.