Posts tagged “Marvel

And Another Thing

I wrote a thing.  It’s kind of about A-Force, it’s kind of about Silk, but mostly it’s about shelling out four bucks for a disappointing reading experience.

You can check it out on CBR if you’re so inclined.

Happy Friday!


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.


Agent Carter Premiere & Ant-Man Teaser

Did you see it?  Tell me you watched it, because if you didn’t, it’s still saved on my DVR, and we can watch it together and have popcorn and fangirl(boy?) out.

I’m talking about the magnificence that is AGENT CARTER.

AgentCarterPromo
Good God.  That premiere was everything I was hoping for and beyond.  You know when a show/movie/book is so good and really hits you, and you wake up the next morning still thinking about it?  That was my reaction to this.  Suddenly I am looking forward to Tuesday night television.

That Ant-Man preview, on the other hand … not so much.  I’ve been using the term “meh” a lot lately, but when things are so meh that they evoke no other response in you, you have no choice but to MEH all over the place.  And Ant-Man was legit meeehhhh.  Is this movie supposed to be serious and grim?  That’s the impression I got from the teaser trailer (also, side note, what the hell is a “teaser trailer,” anyway?  How is it any different from a standard trailer?  Film people, help me out).  And if it IS supposed to be serious and grim, with the occasional bit of humor, and you cast a guy like Paul Rudd as the lead, then … uh … you’re doing it wrong.  I wasn’t particularly inclined to see this movie anyway, and the teaser did not do its job to change that.

Oh well.  Agent Carteeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


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.


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!

 

 


And Then This Happened

GambitYou may remember when I confessed my disappointment upon meeting Clay Mann during Boston Comic Con a few months ago.  I didn’t go into any detail other than to say that I walked away feeling let down, and left it there.  But as it turns out, and as anyone smarter than me could evidently have told you, there’s not much you can say on the Internet that won’t eventually be discovered.  As such, Clay Mann found me.  And he messaged me.  And he apologized.  It was extraordinarily kind—not to mention unexpected—and has certainly given me a much different perspective on the experience I had.  And I just wanted to share that with you all, because he’s a stand-up guy, and doesn’t deserve to be thought of otherwise due to something I may have written here.

You may or may not know that Clay is working on a new Gambit title that was announced recently.  And while Gambit is far from being one of my favorite characters (I’m probably in the fangirl minority there), I’ll still give this book a shot, because one of its creators was kind enough to reach out to a disheartened fan.  That should mean a lot.

Thanks, Clay.


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.


More Fuel for the Depressing Fire

Misery loves company, and for women in comics, it seems that their magazine counterparts have got it just as bad.  According to this article from Think Progress, America’s top magazines do just as horrendous a job of hiring ladies as the comic book industry does.  There’s some nifty pie charts there as well, illustrating the female/male ratios per publication.  Pretty ridiculous stuff we’re looking at here.  Let’s see … 165 females to 459 males?  Really, The New Yorker?

The article brings up thoughts that are only all-too-familiar:

Because really, the only answer here is not that these publications can’t find women. It’s that they don’t really care if they do or not. These numbers, and the annual discussion of them, seem to have succeeded in making a lot of female journalists and readers angry and frustrated, but they don’t appear to have made editors feel ashamed, much less called to action. And I’m not quite sure what it would take to persuade them to shake off their lethargy and acceptance of the status quo, which really means accepting sexism.

I wonder where I’ve heard/felt/read/written this before.

And hey–did you know that the new Avengers movie trailer came out today?  It’s completely awesome, of course.  But then I look at it and inevitably start counting … one female Avenger.

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and through a girl’s eyes, the world in which I live appears particularly hostile today.


“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

 


Marjorie Liu at Pandemonium Books

Yeah, that was pretty awesome.

So I went to this signing at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge last night.  I found out about it kind of last-minute (good thing I finally signed up to Twitter) and was looking for someone to come with me, which no one did because my friends are lame and don’t like to drive out to Cambridge.  Lucky for me, I happen to work in this lovely city, so I’m here every weekday whether I want to be or not.  Last night was one of those rare occasions I actually wanted to be here.  I mean, I even stayed at work for an extra half hour for the opportunity to meet Marjorie.  That’s dedication (right?).

I got to Central Square and I basically had no idea where I was going.  I’d never been to Pandemonium Books before, and for some reason I was expecting this gigantic, Borders-like book store, which could not be further from what I actually found.  It’s a tiny little thing just around a corner off Mass Ave.—not bad tiny, but more like cozy tiny (although it appears they do have a good gaming space downstairs that I didn’t check out), and when I walked in, I was immediately greeted by the kind gentleman behind the counter who asked me if I was there for the signing.

M. Liu signing at Pandemonium BooksI arrived incredibly early—the signing was at 7:00 and I’d gotten there at about 6:15, so I spent some time perusing the shelves and feeling a little awkward.  A table of Marjorie’s books was set up in the middle of the floor, with a little over a dozen chairs lined up facing it.  Let me reiterate—this place is small.  It was a small setup.  So while my brain was expecting some sort of grand assembly beforehand, when I walked in and realized we’d all be breathing down her neck, I admittedly got kind of nervous.  I’m more of a “hang back” type of person when I go to these things—sit in the middle of the pack, keep quiet, and just wait to get up to the table to get my book signed.  No nonstop chitchat from me, no hassling the creator—at most I may ask for a picture, but that’s as far as I go.

At quarter to 7:00 when it was just me and one other girl sitting there by ourselves (in the front row, no less), what I thought was panic but actually turned out to be excitement set in.  I was admittedly concerned that no one else would show up for this thing—how terrible would that be?  Well … I was concerned up until the point Marjorie walked in, immediately began talking to us, and offered to sign our books, that I relaxed a little and thought, yeah, this is completely awesome.  Others did arrive, of course, but it was still a tight-knit group, and very relaxed atmosphere—so much so that I broke my “keep quiet” attitude and asked a couple of questions.

Marjorie is incredibly sweet, fun to talk to (and listen to), and totally easy going.  She read a short excerpt from her new book, Within the Flames, and took Q&A about many topics, from her work with Marvel, to her novel writing, to her opinions on the DC reboot and whatever in between.  (I totally meant to ask her about her poodles, too, and I forgot.  Damn.)  Honestly, some of the Marvel stuff was a little depressing—such as hearing that her pitch for an all-female team book consisting of She-Hulk, Elektra, and Mystique was shot down because it “won’t sell.”  We all know Marvel and DC pander to teenage boys, but actually hearing that confirmed out loud by a creator leaves me kind of gutted.  Luckily there are still plenty of good things to keep me happy and excited, such as Marjorie’s upcoming run on Astonishing X-Men.  There were also plenty of other girls in the audience—girls who read comics and actually know what they’re talking about, and that’s always awesome.  We aren’t as rare as you might think.

At the end, I shook Marjorie’s hand and thanked her for taking the time to speak with us.  She sincerely thanked me for coming out, and I hopped out of the store to catch my late train home, quite tired but very happy.

And then the weirdest thing happened this morning (thank you, again, Twitter).

Apparently, none other than Mister Junot Diaz had been present in the audience with us last night.  I remember looking at him as he asked questions, thinking to myself that I’d surely seen him somewhere before… hmm… he’s sooooooo familiar?  Well, it turns out it was Mr. Diaz—a fact I only knew from reading my Twitter feed this morning where everyone basically had the same MIND BLOWN reaction I had.  Jesus—this man’s books were practically my college curriculum.  Fiesta 1980 is one of my all time favorite short stories.  Dude was in the same room with me all night and I had no clue.  The event was already awesome on its own, and I’d woken up this morning still floating a little from the high it gave me—to read about that just took it to another level.  Two for the price of one.

A great night.


Review: X-Men Legacy #260.1

Hi, gang!  Surely you must have known when I promised a new post in “a couple of days,” that it meant over a week, right?  Of course you did!  Sorry, Sleepers.  I have been decidedly rubbish in several different ways this week.  I don’t just fall or trip up, but rather take spectacular dives off long cliffs.

The pile of catch-up reading continues to grow ever more, and I am slowly working on a couple of different pieces for your reading pleasure.  In between, there’s been much news about various things, some of it just god-awful, and some of it bad to the point of hilarity, and some of it outright awesome.  Great stuff to write about; even better stuff to use as fodder for chats at the comic shop.

Here’s a review.

 

X-Men Legacy #260.1X-Men Legacy #260.1
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by David Baldeon, Jordan Tarragona
Cover by Mark Brooks
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of this issue for a while, as it marks the end of what was a remarkable and celebrated run by Mike Carey on this book.  I’ve expressed my love for Mr. Carey on several occasions here, and when his departure from this book was announced, my reaction was flat-out depression.  I also may or may not have acted like a child who lost her favorite toy (“But WHY?!  Why does this have to happen?!  Goodbye, favorite title!  I hate comics!”); waah, waah, waaaah, and so forth.

I know, I’m really building up my credibility here, aren’t I?  Take the above with a grain of salt.  (Sort of.)

Tantrum aside, when I learned that Christos Gage would be taking the reins of X-Men Legacy, I was actually quite … relieved.  Some of you may know Christos as a friend of the store and a Worcester native, but more importantly, he’s a very talented writer.  Christos is putting out some great work on Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith right now, but the only work of his I’ve read has been miscellaneous issues of Avengers Academy and a quick guest-stint he did on Amazing Spider-Man last year (which I loved).  I’ve since gone back to pick up the first AA trade, but the catch up process, as you know, can take a while for me.  Ultimately, the feelings of trepidation subsided and I started to look forward to Christos’ debut issue.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.

Writing a team book, let alone an X-Men book, can be quite challenging, but Christos Gage makes it look easy.  He does very well in splitting panel time between team members and students, and does so in a manner that helps make the story flow as oppose to hinder it via too many scene transitions.

If you’ve ever attempted to learn how to drive a car that has a manual gearbox, you know that one of the harder things to get down is just getting the car moving out of first gear and shifting smoothly into second.  The first few tries, you’re likely to clunk around, stall it once or twice, and find your head bobbing against the headrest with every release of the clutch.  Reading a team book where a writer doesn’t transition well can be a similar experience–the story is thumpy, you’re starting and stopping, and the result is little to no flow.  But with this issue of X-Men Legacy, I’d read through to the final page without even realizing I’d taken in so much story so quickly.  Because it just kept going … until it didn’t.  And I like that.

One of the big things about Mike Carey’s run that endeared me to him was his development of Rogue as a character.  Anyone who has been following along knows that she has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of her role in Legacy, and a factor I feared the most in Carey’s departure was the idea of Rogue being relegated to the background once more.  Goodbye, leadership role.  Goodbye, panel time.  Goodbye, power control.  These were things I had waited decades as a reader to see for Rogue, and the potential threat of regression terrified me.

Happily—as in, GOOD GOD WHAT A RELIEF—this doesn’t seem to be the case.  At least, not yet.  What’s awesome here is that if no one told me that the writer had been replaced, in my glee reading this, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  The changeover is relatively seamless; Gage plays off of Carey’s groundwork while shifting Rogue’s team to its new status at the Jean Grey School.  It’s great to watch this group interacting with the X-kids again, and Gage wraps it all up with a fun little surprise at the end of the issue—a surprise you could likely see coming, but still great to read nonetheless.

Before reading this issue, I checked out a couple of reviews online and was surprised to find a mixed, below-average reaction.  Among the chief complaints are the artwork, which I have to agree with—while not outright bad in skill, it’s a little too … “cartoony” and … well, straight-up ugly for my taste.  I miss Clay Mann on this title and am hoping the current artist isn’t on for the long haul.  An X-Men book like this should only be saddled with a steady, consistent artist, and I’m learning that very little of that exists at Marvel (I’m looking at you, Captain America/Wolverine & X-Men/X-23/Secret Avengers/Thor/you-name-it).

Aside from butt ugly art, I’m also hearing that Rogue’s casual borrowing of other’s powers in this issue is uncharacteristic of her.  I have to argue otherwise, as Mike Carey spent a long time crafting the idea of her becoming comfortable with the use of her powers, and I’m loving the more free-spirited vibe Christos gives her here.  Especially in the context of the training scene, where she’s preparing the students for an element of surprise, I don’t see it as disrespectful but rather fairly inventive.  Just my take.

That said, this is probably one of the longer reviews I’ve done in a while about a comic I’m pleased with, so that should tell you something about my confidence in this title moving forward.  I’m psyched to have Christos on board, and happily, still looking forward to X-Men Legacy.


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


Reviews? What Reviews?

MarvelHaven’t picked up my comics in a couple of weeks, nor have I had the time to read what I have, so it’s going to be a review-less weekend.  To satiate your appetite, head on over to Nerd Caliber for a little ditty I wrote up on Marvel’s 2012 event, Avengers vs. X-Men, and check out some of their other fun features as well.


Post-Turkey Day Reviews

Hello.  Have we all recovered from our food comas yet?  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life.  At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.

 

Princeless #2Princeless #2
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

So … are you reading Princeless yet?  Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough?  Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”

Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped.  Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin.  When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death.  Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you?  You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean.  There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.

Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either.  A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all.  Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while.  They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated.  Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.

This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it.  In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.

Please read this book, and please pass it along.  I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.

 

Captain America & Bucky #624Captain America & Bucky #624
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hmm.  What can I say about this one?  I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha.  They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad.  So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it.  But this was a little bit of a letdown.

The issue started off very well.  The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning.  We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well.  We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff.  His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.

I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown.  Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?

I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing.  I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over.  It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way.  At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was.  I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further.  I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling.  If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”?  Did I somehow read the book wrong?

Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup.  Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.

 

Wolverine & the X-Men #2Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books.  I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine?  You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.

So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.

I’m not disappointed.  The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong.  It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action.  Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction.  I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another.  You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking?  A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff.  It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight.  If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.

Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines.  The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once.  Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development.  We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews.  There are great things here.

That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book.  For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way.  A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me.  I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron.  His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever.  I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.

Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise.  However…

In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues.  Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over.  I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words.  While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues.  This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable.  And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks.  FOUR BUCKS!  Argh!  Infuriating.  Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me.  Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.

 


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


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


Reviews: Cloak and Dagger #1, Batgirl #24

Cloak and Dagger #1Cloak and Dagger #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Emma Rios
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oh, what a pleasant surprise.  I have to be honest, I kind of just picked this up on a whim.  I’ve always had a passing interest in Cloak and Dagger—while I’ve never actively sought them out, I always appreciated them when they made appearances in various titles I’d be reading.  Hearing about this miniseries, I was a little turned off at first by the idea that it’s a tie-in to the “Spider Island” event.  Oh, another event?  Another tie-in?  I was ready to pass on this.  I was gonna pass on it so hard, its face was gonna hurt.

Well, something obviously changed my tune.  I’m not sure if it was the preview art, the fact that there was a female creator on the book, or just the overall badassery of Cloak and Dagger that convinced me to give it a try, but I’m glad I did.  This was enjoyable.

While this story does function as a tie-in to Spider Island, I’d argue that it’s a pretty loose one. I’m not reading Spider Island at all, but I could get into the setting for the story quite easily from the recap page, and then it’s all more or less relegated to the background from there. This is not so much about Cloak and Dagger reacting to Spider Island as it is just about Cloak and Dagger themselves, their relationship, and what makes them tick in the midst of all the action.  These are the types of stories I always want to read, and Nick Spencer, despite being quite a busy man these days, appears to deliver.  Here, we learn that the duo is being evicted from their makeshift home inside a church.  Cloak takes matters into his own hands and arranges a “Heroes for Hire” type of setup for the pair, of which Dagger is critical.  What makes the events and discussions in this issue so interesting, though, is how it’s all laid out for us by Emma Rios.  The artwork most certainly amplifies the dialogue coming out of the characters’ mouths, particularly during one double-page spread that’s done just achingly well.  Rios plays with Cloak and Dagger’s dark and light, yin and yang, form and function aspects of their personalities, and it accompanies the script in a way that’s complementary, not overbearing.

If I have any reservations regarding the script, I’m worried Nick Spencer will just beat us over the head with this yin yang analogy for the rest of the mini, but I’m hoping that isn’t the case.  I feel like he’s a talented enough guy not to go that route, and I think the remaining issues should be equally good if not better.  Oh, one weird thing—there’s a part where the Avengers show up, and Wolverine has some pretty skeevy dialogue when talking to Dagger.  I don’t really get it.  It seemed noticeably off to me.   Meh—if that’s the worst thing, I’ll take it.  I’m actually kind of anxious to learn what happens, especially when you consider who the villain of this is—which I’ll let you find out for yourselves.

If you’ve got some room in your pull list to play around, check out Cloak and Dagger.

 

Batgirl #24Batgirl #24
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Illustrated by Pere Perez
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Well … that was fun while it lasted.  I guess this isn’t a review of this issue alone so much as of the series overall, as Bryan Q. Miller wraps up two years writing what has been a truly wonderful book. I’ve voiced my devout love of this series before on this blog, so it’s probably unsurprising that I was nearly in tears reading the final issue of something I have cherished for the last 24 months.  That’s how good this title has been, that I can get this emotional over its ending. Although I’m looking forward to reading the “New 52” Barbara GordonBatgirl under Gail Simone, I can’t help but feel major heartbreak over losing a character I never expected to love this much—Stephanie Brown.

Bryan Q. Miller does a great job in concluding the series with this issue.  Readers from the last issue will recall the unexpected appearance of Stephanie Brown’s father, Cluemaster—the catalyst that set Stephanie off parading as a vigilante in the first place during her Spoiler days. This is Steph’s first meeting with her dad since she was “killed,” and it’s a dramatic one.  I only wish Miller had more time and more issues to write and develop this encounter (his plans were cut short via the reboot mandate; read the interview here).  As it is, he uses this opportunity to bring Steph on a “what if” style adventure—what could have been for her, what she dreams of her legacy as part of the Bat family, what could await her in the future, etc.  I’ll leave it to you to discover the plot device Miller uses to bring all this about; it’s something I haven’t seen in a while, so there’s a bit of nostalgia there, and I really enjoyed it.  The artwork by Pere Perez does a lovely job of conveying the ideas present, and Dustin Nguyen’s cover is beautiful and perfect—as his stuff always is.  Man … this is depressing. I’m going to miss this book so hard.

If you’ve never read this title, you’ve really missed out on something special.  Fans who once clamored for Cassandra Cain are now clamoring for Cass AND Steph, and hey—how awesome would a TEAM BATGIRL book be?!  We struck gold with this incarnation of Batgirl, and all I can do is wait patiently for Steph’s triumphant return.  Her happy-go-lucky, never-say-die attitude means she’s bound to come back eventually.  Right?

Batgirl #24 Final Scene


Reviews: Mystic #1, Rachel Rising #1

So I’m starting to watch the new X-Men anime series that came out recently.  The opening scene in the first episode revolves around Cyclops screaming “Jeeeaaaaaannnnnnnn!” several times.  Priceless.  Also, Phoenix is in it, and each one of her individual um … “assets” … is larger than her head.  By like, miles.  More gruesome details to potentially follow if I ever get through more episodes.

 

Mystic #1Mystic #1
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by David Lopez
Cover by Amanda Conner
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

YEAH!  THIS!  VERY THIS!  This is what I wanted from this book!  Amazing.  So, I never read any of the original Crossgen titles back when they were around.  I checked out Marvel’s versions of Ruse and Sigil recently, so I thought—okay.  Mystic.  Let’s do this.  G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez as a team has to be good, right?  I’m ashamed to say I have not read Wilson’s Air, nor her Cairo, but I’ve heard great things and they’re definitely in the “to be read” pile.  I also loved Lopez on Hawkeye & Mockingbird, and seeing some of his preview pages for this instantly guaranteed I’d check it out.  While I can’t comment on this book in relation to its previous incarnation, I can only address what I’ve read here.  And what I read here is wonderful.

The story focuses on two orphans, Giselle and Genevieve, trapped in a boarding house and working to pay off the “debt” they’ve incurred to their headmistress for feeding them (slop), clothing them (rags), etc.  Set in a steampunk world called Hyperion and rendered beautifully by Lopez, Genevieve aspires to learn all she can about the “noble arts” and to become a mystic apprentice.  Giselle, the more realistic and/or pessimistic of the two, has pretty much resigned herself to the idea of life in the boarding house despite its misery.  The girls are eventually caught sneaking into an off-limits area of the house, and they subsequently manage to flee, climbing over and past the fence that cages them in.  What happens next is the best part of the story, so I won’t spoil it for you.

Some of the unfortunate clichés we begin with here—the boarding house as a prison; the seemingly evil and mean headmistress; etc.—are pretty much the only strikes I have against this story.  Even then, I feel like much of that can be blamed on the fact that this is only a miniseries—you really can’t take up much time building an elaborate setup—and I’d wager that Wilson had to make this concession for the sake of fitting more pertinent things into the next three issues.  I’ll give her that leeway under the assumption that the rest of the story will pick up the slack, and frankly, even a cliché-laden start is better than most original starts on other minis.  I need only point to the Wolverine and the Black Cat for evidence there.

As a whole, I loved this first issue.  Who’s the colorist on this—Nathan Fairbairn?  I’m unfamiliar with him, but he deserves a major nod—the colors on this book are FANTASTIC.  Wow—just excellent stuff.  Really gives life to Lopez’s pencils.  It kind of reminds me of something out of a Disney movie—it feels like these characters can just leap off the page any minute and start singing a musical number about their hardships.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a plus for me.  Bring on issue #2.

 

Rachel Rising PromoRachel Rising #1
Created by Terry Moore
Publisher:  Abstract Studios
Price:  $3.99

 

I’m in love with Terry Moore.  Desperately in love (don’t tell the Boyfriend).

Terry Moore is my hero, he really is.  I had the incredible pleasure of meeting him at Boston Comic Con this year, and he was just such a stand up guy, you know?  Unfailingly nice and I totally wanted to be a spaz and just hang around his table all day.  But, I’m guessing that would have freaked him out and I really didn’t need a repeat of what happened with Frank Quitely.  The point is, Terry Moore is completely amazing, and I will buy anything with his name on it.  I would buy a home prostate exam if it said “created by Terry Moore” on the box.

So when I heard about Rachel Rising coming out, I was aaaaalllllllllll over this like white on rice.  I’ve only ever read Mr. Moore’s  works in collected formats—Strangers in Paradise is one of my favorite series of all time, and I’m anxious to pick up the complete edition of Echo that was just released.  With Rachel Rising, though, I thought I’d try another way of reading Terry Moore by picking up each individual issue as it’s released … and so far, it’s a vastly different experience.

This title begins hauntingly, as it opens with the main character literally digging her way out of her own grave.  It’s apparent to the reader right off the bat that something is terribly wrong with her—I mean, in addition to the fact that she’s seemingly come back to life from what we presume to be her murder.  Rachel is disoriented in making her way back from her grave to her home.  She has no memory of what’s occurred, nor does she seem to notice at first the strangulation marks on her neck or the spooky manner in which her eyes change color.  Her house cat, for one, doesn’t want to go near her—that alone should be a pretty big tipoff.  Moore breaks the issue into scene parts and we learn just a little bit about her past life, but end with an alarming statement from another character—a statement on which I gather the rest of the series will decidedly rest.

The artwork, as always, is fantastic.  I love that Mr. Moore does not color his work—it functions especially well on a book like this—and his lines, transitions, and panel work is crisp as it ever is.  The only downside I can find to his art, if there is one at all, would be that the main characters from his books tend to look very similar.  Rachel looks a lot like Katchoo from SiP, who also looks a lot like the girl from Echo.  But honestly—if that’s the worst thing about this, I’ll happily take it.  And with a guy as talented as Moore, I have to believe the similarities are intentional.  If I have any real complaints here, it’s just the fact that I’m not getting enough story.  I desperately want more.  I want the next issue right now, and I want to know what went down that got Rachel to that grave.  While I don’t typically go for horror as a genre (Walking Dead aside), I don’t mind it if it has a purpose, and if the storytelling is good, then I’m there.  There’s no question I’m on this ride ‘til the end.

Mr. Moore had this to say about the series on his blog:

Can Rachel rise above the glass ceiling of indy books and break into the Top 100?  That would be a first for me.  Eighteen years of books, and I’ve never been in the Top 100.  Ultimately, I don’t decide that… you do.  I know the comics industry is particularly preoccupied right now, but I’m going to do everything I can to make Rachel impossible to ignore.  Anything you can do to help her find recognition in our hero-centric comics world would be great, because everything you post gets reposted by a dozen other people and so on and when a lot of people talk about something, things happen.

So, what do you think?  Will you support Rachel Rising?  Will you forego at least some of the anticipated garbage you know will come out of “the New 52” and “Fear Itself” in order to support an independent like this?  Give it a shot.  Rachel—and Terry Moore—are worth it.


Pants: Never a Good Decision

…at least where Wonder Woman is concerned.

Why hello there, comic shop peeps!  If you’ve been trying to reach me via e-mail and I haven’t replied, please know that I’m not intentionally ignoring you (unless your name is Dario*)—rather, my e-mail has not been working lately.  And by “not working,” I mean “forgot my password.”  Don’t ask me how I managed to do that, but I did, and thus haven’t been able to log in for about three weeks or more now.  EDIT:  fixed!

I am staggeringly behind on my comics reading and haven’t picked up any new stuff in two weeks, so I ask your forgiveness for the lack of reviews.  In the meantime, some notes/commentary:

  • As the final cover and variant cover for Justice League #1 come out, the great pants/no pants debate rages on, and it’s absurdly amusing if not very depressing.  For the record?  I’m pretty thrilled to see the pants gone (although that David Finch cover makes me want to cry).  DCWKA has a pretty great post that rather nicely sums up most of my own feelings on the topic of female character uniforms.
  • Oh.  I finally saw the nixed David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot.  To say that it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever watched would be paying it a compliment.  Thank goodness this thing didn’t get picked up.  As I sat there twitching and staring at the television in disbelief, Boyfriend fearfully turned to me at one point and said, “I can actually feel the rage coming off of you right now.”
  • Because I am completely obsessed with comics to the point I spend my … um … “lunch break” (heh heh) reading about comics news on the internet, I just saw that The Source has a first look at Henry Cavill as Superman in the upcoming new movie.  It looks very good, wouldn’t you agree?  And as the article mentions, Laurence Fishburne now has the role of Perry White.  Are we following in the footsteps of a Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury?  Not a bad decision, if you ask me.
    Rachel Rising #1
  • Another thing that’s not a bad decision is Marvel’s reveal of who the new Ultimate Spider-Man is.  SPOILERS here and here.  The character’s debut issue hit the stands on Wednesday in Ultimate Fallout #4, so snag a copy while you can.
  • The first issue of Terry Moore’s new book, Rachel Rising, also came out this week.  Is anyone checking this out?  Because you should.  Terry Moore is legit amazing—I would hate for his awesomeness to be eclipsed by the latest Marvel and DC hype.  Really looking forward to getting my hands on this.
  • Speaking of amazing—oh my goodness, Craig Thompson.  I love him.  His new book, Habibi, is coming out in just a few short weeks, and the previews I’ve seen are unbelievably gorgeous.  It makes me feel better to know I’ll have something to look forward to in September when the “New 52” inevitably lets me down.  Also, Mr. Thompson is doing a signing at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square the day after the book comes out, so if you’re in the area, let me know because I will most certainly be there.  PSYCHED, PSYCHED, PSYCHED!
  • Saw Captain America the other week.  It was awesome.  Avengers trailer after the credits brought out my squealing fangirl.  ‘Nuff said.

Okay, that’s all I got!  It’s gonna be a three-day weekend for me, so I’ll catch you punks later!  Happy comic reading!

*Just kidding, Dario, you know I love you!


Reviews: Captain America #1, New Avengers #14

Captain America #1Captain America #1
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Price:  $3.99

 

Well now.  This is how it’s done, isn’t it?

My expectations were high for the launch of this title, and the reasons are palpable.  Ed Brubaker writing?  Check.  Steve McNiven on art?  Oh yes, that’s a big check.  A Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, and Dum Dum Dugan cast?  Here’s my $3.99, guys—sign me the heck up.

I became a Cap fan from reading various Avengers books over the years, but it wasn’t until very recently that I actually began to pay attention to his solo title(s).  The praise drummed up for Brubaker’s take on Steve and Bucky got me to give his stuff a look, and from what I’ve read so far, I can confidently say that praise is well-deserved.  So I went into this new first issue expecting Brubaker to deliver, and deliver he did.

If you’re reading Fear Itself, or even if you’re not, you likely know by now that my sweet Bucky Barnes is dead (again).  The setup has, I’m told, been long coming for Cap to take up the shield once again, and here we have that promise fulfilled.  The book begins, sadly, with a funeral—Peggy Carter’s, specifically—in an opening scene that is both poignant and purposeful.  We’re introduced to the cast, given a brief insight into the man that Steve Rogers is, and then kicked off into an action sequence that, I have to say, is delivered frigging beautifully by McNiven.  Can that man draw the heck out of a comic, or what?  The layouts are so clear; his lines are clean, and everything just looks fantastic while functioning superbly.  You’re certainly never left looking at a panel and wondering what’s happening.  I fell in love with McNiven’s work with his Civil War stuff, and I’m falling harder now.

But back to the writing.  To start off the first arc, Cap and his team find themselves facing a once-friend, now-enemy from his WWII days.  Brubaker impresses me pretty effortlessly here.  He doesn’t try too hard and he’s never too in-your-face with things.  Characterization comes across subtly and naturally, and the setting flows from one scene to another bridged through flashbacks in time.  The issue ends with the expected cliffhanger—I say “expected,” but that doesn’t make it any less effective.  In fact, I’m even more excited to read on.

Marvel, obviously, are capitalizing on the newly-released Captain America movie and using it as a way to give new readers a place to start.  I’m shocked to say they’re actually doing it right by writing Cap as he’s meant to be written and not dumbing things down for new fans.  Captain America #1 is precisely what I want from a comic, and so long as this creative teams sticks around, I anticipate fans will, too.

New Avengers #14New Avengers #14
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Mike Deodato
Price:  $3.99

 

I tend to pick up Avengers books here and there, depending on story arc and previews that grab me.  Bendis as a writer is very hit-and-miss for me.  I generally like most of his ideas and character development, but sometimes he’ll do something that will totally stick me the wrong way (treatment of Tigra; last-minute ditch of Spider-Woman title; gag-inducing self promotion in his books), and the stereotype that he writes every character’s dialogue the same is mostly true.  Don’t get me wrong—sometimes he is just a master at light-heartedness and at getting down to who a character is through dialogue—but a lot of the time, yes, they do all quip like Spider-Man.

Those pet peeves aside, he can still spin a good yarn.  Particularly when you compare his stuff to some of the other junk that saturates the Marvel shelves.  But I digress.  Let’s talk about New Avengers #14.New Avengers #14, Page 3

Reading the Avengers off and on as I do can get understandably confusing as I attempt to fill in the gaps of things I’ve missed.  What led me to snag this issue was actually a preview page online of Mockingbird talking at the “camera.”  Apparently, in the last arc, Mockingbird was gravely injured, and in an attempt to save her life, some sort of amalgam of Super Soldier Serum was administered to her.  This summary of backstory is part of why I loved this issue.  Instead of reading some dry re-cap page, I got everything I needed to know in-story, directly from the character herself.  We’ve seen these pages a lot recently in Avengers—simple, square panel, face-forward shots of characters speaking straight to the audience—and it’s a technique that works spectacularly well.  It’s simple, effective, and refreshing.  Chris Bachalo and JR Jr. have both tried their hand at this style of storytelling for Bendis, and in this issue of New Avengers, Mike Deodato gets his turn.

He does a great job, in my opinion.  I loved Deodato’s work to kick off the Secret Avengers title, but soon got sick of the constant shadows and darkness and what became a blatantly obvious laziness.  The stuff he does here, though, looks infinitely better—partly because, yeah, he does actually draw their faces for a change—and it feels like he’s trying harder.  There’s more going on, and I largely enjoyed it.

Mockingbird is indeed the spotlight of this issue, and I’m glad of it.  It feels like Bendis is giving her character some real credit, and he ties the story into Fear Itself without actually making it a Fear Itself tie-in … if that makes any sense.  The whole Sin/hammers/destruction stuff is still there, sure, but this issue is about the Avengers and about Mockingbird specifically.  In this event-crazy medium, it’s kind of nice to have that split.  Let’s keep it going.

 


What the Blurb? Reviews!

Before I get into the reviews, let me just mention what is sure to be a fantastic new web comic, Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett.  It’s just launched this week and so far I am pretty excited.  Rucka is one of my favorite writers (and a totally cool person to boot), Burchett’s art looks lovely, and the site design is awesome.  Worth checking out and supporting, so spread the word!

Now, onto…

Avengers: Children’s Crusade #6 – Oh.  Amazing.  Just … completely wonderful.  More comics should be this.  MORE OF THIS, PLEASE, MARVEL.

Batman, Inc. #7Batman, Inc. #7 – I was ready to give up on the Batman, Inc. title after what I thought was a horrible arc in Argentina.  Morrison lost me pretty hard with some of his writing techniques and the fact that I basically had no idea what was happening for like three issues.  Then all this DC reboot stuff came up, and everyone’s all like “You have to read Batman, Inc. or the Bat books won’t make sense!”  I guess I still don’t really understand how ANYTHING’S going to make sense as far as how we can keep the continuity in this title when characters are changing in so many other titles come September, but all right, whatever—I’ll bite.  The book is ending soon, anyway—I’ll stay on for the ride and see what happens.  So then I picked up this issue and was … absolutely glued to it.  Wow.  What?  Where was THIS stuff hiding?  I truly enjoyed this issue on so many levels.  The story was meaningful, the artwork by Chris Burnham was a pleasure, the writing was clean and purposeful, and it didn’t teeter off the path or dillydally like it did in previous issues.  The story is entirely self-contained in this one issue, and it’s friggin’ fantastic.  I finished this and wondered why more Grant Morrison comics couldn’t be written in a similar manner.  Morrison takes two characters I have never read or knew of before and creates something that feels so easy and humble.  He rarely does that for me—so much of the time when I read his stories, they feel condescending or “holier-than-thou.”  This one doesn’t, and it’s perfect.  I enjoyed this issue a lot, and thus am now expectant of the remainder of the series to be the same.  Read this.  I don’t want to summarize the plot—just give it a read.

The Guild: Bladezz One-ShotThe Guild: Bladezz One-Shot – So, I’m kind of obsessed with The Guild.  If you’re a gamer and have never watched this web show, do yourself a favor and check it out, because it’s awesome and hilarious.  Watch it on the website.  Watch it on YouTube.  Netflix it.  Get the DVDs off Amazon.  Whatever—just do it.  It’s become such a hit, in fact, that Dark Horse has taken to publishing one-shot Guild comics for each member of the Knights of Good.  I’d recommend reading the short Guild miniseries that came out last year as well, as it serves as a prequel to the show and gives some more depth to the main character.  It’s also super short, inexpensive, and collected in trade for your convenience.  Anyway, tangent—Bladezz is the third one-shot to be produced, after Vork and Tinkerballa.  It’s on par with its predecessors, if not slightly better.  I have an affinity for Bladezz as a character, I think he’s pretty damn hilarious, and I found his one-shot light and funny.  The artwork isn’t really my taste, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, and it’s basically in line with the issues before it.  So, bottom line—read Guild comics.  They’ll give you +5 to Sexterity.

Wolverine/Black Cat: Claws 2 #1 – … Are you serious right now?  Are you absolutely serious?  Reading this, I could feel a part of my brain crack apart and die.  I don’t even want to glorify it with a full review, suffice it to say Palmiotti’s writing is nothing more than fanservice and brings me to a hysterical fit of tears, and Linsner on art is eye-gouging.  Don’t go near this thing.  Just … don’t.  It’s actually worse than the first one.  If you can imagine that.