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.
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.
Comics Beat did a summary of a really interesting Wonder Woman panel discussion at Denver Comic Con: http://comicsbeat.com/on-the-scene-denver-comic-con-2013-jimenez-perez-fradon-kelly-find-wonder-woman-problematic/
My favorite piece of this, when talking about adapting Wonder Woman for TV/film: “In [Phil] Jimenez’s reading of Wonder Woman stories, he sees a figure from whom humanity can learn a great deal, but in proposed adaptations, she has always been reconfigured as a character who needs to learn from humanity. It’s a fundamental problem, he felt, that dilutes the character’s strengths.”
Many more great points there, so check out the article.
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 – 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 #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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Man. I’m really kinda hatin’ on DC right now. At some point after my post a couple of months ago about how I was going to try to be all positive and optimistic about DC, I read a bunch of crap that I didn’t like, and I’m back to being all cantankerous again. The latest thing to get me riled up into a ball of rage is the news about Wonder Woman. They’re changing (read: retconning) her origin. I was all ready to jump on the Brian Azzarello band wagon here and proclaim him Wondy’s savior until I heard this.
I think this is all part of the cause of my not reading comics lately. I’m just kind of sick of all the hype, and it’s EVERYWHERE. Running to the Marvel shelves is no different, as almost everything I see is slathered with a “Fear Itself” label. Can we come right out and admit that the story is awful? It’s not a good event, if there is such a thing. It’s just plain bad, and reeks of being haphazardly put together. The only thing tied to Fear Itself that I’m even remotely interested in is Journey into Mystery, and that’s because that book is awesome no matter what. Kieron Gillen is writing the heck out of that.
I have to think aloud and wonder if perhaps the fight against the hype is a losing battle—it’s essentially become the nature of comics, but I’m not convinced it should be. Just tell a good story, guys. That’s all anybody wants. Amirite?
No? Okay, fine, I’ll shut up. Reviews!
HUUUNNNNTTTRRREEESSSSSS. I love the Huntress. What’s not to love about her? She’s Italian, she has pretty black hair, and she’s a total badass. I was eager to get my Huntress fix when they announced this six-issue mini. Gotta admit, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down—the frightening Guillem March cover leaves much to be desired, and I wasn’t hugely confident in Paul Levitz behind the pen despite being her creator (kinda). It was kind of a “YAAYYY HUNTREEESSSS … oh, wait. What?” reaction, which seems to be the case a lot with DC and me these days.
Anyway. I read this, and you know what? The art was AWESOME. It’s the first thing that hit me and it’s the best part of the book, hands-down. Marcus To, I had no idea who you were before this, but count me amongst the legion of fans I’m certain you’ve secured after KILLING IT on this. Helena has never looked so good. Like, literally—and I’m wicked going to be a girl here—some of the outfits To draws her in are simple and elegant and fashionable, I was like “Where can I buy that? That’s awesome.” Then he throws on her Huntress uniform and she’s another person entirely, and it brings even more of the awesome. Especially when she’s kicking some dude in the jaw. Kick it, Huntress! The choreography in one of the fight scenes is so perfectly illustrated—along with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman #1, I would say they’re the two best fight scenes I’ve seen in a while. Top this book off with a head nod to the colorist, because the colors were beautiful and makes To look that much more talented.
So the art’s great. The story? Meh. Okay, it’s maybe a little better than “meh.” It’s actually not bad at all, it’s just not particularly ground-breaking. Huntress goes to Italy to break up a slave ring/drug ring/what-have-you. We’ve read this story before, right? So it’s really not baaaddddd, it’s just … well, it’s just what it is. I will say that the first issue lays a groundwork that’s full of potential, and the next five issues could very well turn up the heat and hit us with a surprise or two. I hope they do, because I’ll go as far as to say this was one of the New 52 I’ve actually really liked. In a sea of mediocre, I liked this. Let’s build off that, please, Mr. Levitz.
Mystic. We continue where we left off in number two, with lessons in the mystic arts and that witchy mean girl whose name I forget trying to sabotage the main character at every turn. I enjoyed the heck out of the first two issues of this, but issue three seemed to hit a lull somehow. Actually, that’s not really fair … it’s not so much a “lull” as it’s just that I can tell the story is being rushed and condensed to accommodate the fact there’s only four issues in which to tell it. The snag was bound to be somewhere, and it feels like it’s right here. When you reach the last page and realize the conclusion is coming up next, it’s kind of hard to take. There’s SO MUCH MORE we could be reading here. You can tell that G. Willow Wilson has put a lot of thought into this world and these characters, and it feels terribly unfair that we won’t get to explore any more of it as of next month.
So that makes me frown a bit. I know it’s all going to unravel too quickly as of issue four. I wish that weren’t a basis of judgment on this issue, but it is. Still, as little story as we’re getting, I’ll gladly take it over no story at all.
Not to mention there is always the saving grace that is David Lopez. I can’t get over how wonderful his stuff is here. Forget about all of the mechanics of drafting a comic book page—forget about all the transitions, the backgrounds, the panels. Let’s just talk about facial expressions, because that one skill alone is what absolutely MAKES this book. Lopez is an undisputed master of facial expressions, and as such, the emotions of each character come at you unapologetically. And it’s so, so good. You know something? If you were to take out all the speech bubbles and all the text on every page, I bet you’d still know exactly what was going on in the story. That is the mark of an excellent artist, and Mr. Lopez is at the top of his game here. I adore him for it. If the narrative of the next issue were to completely tank, I’d still love this for the artwork alone.
I’ll be sad when it’s over, but after Mystic concludes, I’d follow these two creators anywhere.
I remember reading an interview with Terry Moore that announced Rachel Rising as his newest project. In the interview, Mr. Moore discussed his desire to do a horror book—something scary and haunting, and I remember thinking to myself … really? Terry Moore doing a horror book?
I wasn’t convinced it would work. Nothing against the guy—in fact I have proclaimed my undying love for him here before—but I just couldn’t picture it based on his previous work.
I stand corrected.
This is creepy as &@%$.
Wow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy in a good way. In an excellent way. Aside from one or two things (Walking Dead), I generally despise horror as a genre. But, this is Terry Moore, so of course I gravitate to it. And rightly so, because Rachel Rising, thus far, is great.
I’d typed up this whole big thing summarizing the greater parts of this issue, but then I re-read what I’d typed and couldn’t think of a way to get it across to you without ruining some of the suspense and build up. So I’m going to completely dump that and just let you judge for yourselves. Hopefully you’re picking this up. Unlike some of the stuff by the Big Two, it’s actually worth the $3.99.
I’m having a rough go of this DC stuff, guys. A real rough go. If I had to pick one book this week to tell you to avoid like the frigging plague, it would be Teen Titans. Don’t do it to yourself, readers. You deserve better.
While That’s E is my LCS, occasional place of employment, and all-around hub of awesome, working in Boston can make it difficult to swing by store hours during the week to pick up comics. That activity is typically reserved for the weekend when Boyfriend and I—now Fiancé, hip hip!—have the time to chat with our friends behind the counter, praise the latest works we’ve enjoyed, or talk smack about that week’s failures (at which point hilarity and raucous laughter ensue). But when Wednesday rolls around and the excitement of new comics fills the air, it can prove hard to wait those extra few days. That’s when I usually wander around Harvard Square during my lunch hour and inhabit Million Year Picnic, a quirky little hole-in-the-wall shop with cozy shelves and some super nice people running the register who clearly know their comics. And when I went in there this week, the item I immediately grabbed for a quick read-through was Aquaman #1.
Laugh at me all you want, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Aquaman. His was the first comic I’d ever read when I was a kid, secretly borrowing my brothers’ comics to read whenever they were out of the house. I can get into the myriad reasons why I love Aquaman and will defend him ‘til the end, but that’s a topic for another post (which I’ve been working on for like six months and might never see the light of review day). When DC announced this title, I was actually excited. Aquaman! What!? And not belligerent old hook-hand Aquaman either—no! This was the young, sexy blonde Aquaman that had made my tiny toddler heart skip a beat (he was so pretty!). As I flipped through the pages gawking at the beautiful artwork and reading the story, I knew immediately that this would be one of few keepers for the New 52.
Geoff Johns loves Aquaman. He’s proclaimed as much time and again during interviews, but you don’t need to hear him say that in order to get it. Reading Aquaman #1 felt very much like Johns’ love letter to Aquaman. He cares about this character, and we see that from page one. The entire issue is devoted to building up Aquaman—first with a display of brute strength in the opening pages, followed by a glance at his reputation and insight to what’s in his heart, ultimately ending with a declaration of intent. And in between it all, it is funny as heck. I’m not sure a New 52 book has given me as much enjoyment yet as Aquaman did. I loved this, and if Geoff and Ivan Reis (whose art was ridiculously great) can keep the momentum, I’ll be hooked for the long run.
Uh, no pun intended.
I hate it when this happens. You hear so much hype about a book—it’s built up and talked about everywhere and every review you read is like “THIS IS AMAZING!” and you think, oh my, I can’t wait to be hit with the awesome. Then you get the book and … the balloon has popped. To smithereens. You’re deflated and your pieces are scattered everywhere, and you don’t feel like picking yourself back up.
That’s kind of how I felt after reading this issue. Despite how gorgeous it was for the eyes—as though anyone would expect any less from J.H. Williams on that—it left me deflated. Yet, I’m not really sure what my expectations were. Story-wise, I had none. I’m not a huge Kate Kane follower, but I liked her enough to sample this. The only thing I left the issue with, though, was a sizeable dose of confusion. I haven’t read Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective—the only Batwoman I’d read was the “zero” issue that came out last year or so—and as such, I had no frame of reference for a lot of what was happening in this book. Whatever happened to “new reader-friendly”?
Could I follow along with this? Yes. I could piece together most of what I think I needed to know by the end of the issue. But was it easy, or even rewarding? Not really … I didn’t leave it feeling as such. I’d like to blame that on the fact that J.H Williams, like many on the New 52, is artist-turned-writer. That’s not an easy transition to make. I’d also suggest that this title was never actually meant to be part of the New 52—it wasn’t written to entice new readership or be part of this comics-holy endeavor. It was just a title that kept getting delayed and kept getting delayed and eventually found its way to being a part of this. I think it’s done some harm.
I’m going to read issue two. I’ll likely stick out the entire first arc, because I think whatever nitpicks I have with this can certainly be overcome. I will say that the opening scenes in particular were incredible, and I’m looking for more of that to come. Overall, the book just didn’t hit me the way I was expecting, and so much of that I’m sure has to do with the internet hype. Drowning it out for next month.
Ugh. I really … I didn’t want to do this. I staunchly and adamantly shot down this book before it came out; very loudly voiced my hatred at the concept of a new Birds of Prey without Oracle or Huntress or Gail Simone behind the board. I was NOT going to give this a shot. But in a week where Catwoman and Starfire were degraded and exploited beyond all comprehension … suddenly, a female team book felt more alluring. And really, let’s face it—I’m a masochist. Comics fans in general are absolutely masochists. We know it’s going to be bad—we know it’s going to hurt, but damn it, we just can’t look away. We just can’t stop.
So I picked this up. And … it broke my heart.
First of all, let me get this off my chest: Dinah’s outfit is absolutely dumb. Dumbest thing ever. I will say that I’ve never minded the fishnets in her previous getup—I thought her outfit was fine, and no, I didn’t think she looked like a hooker. I thought she looked like a badass biker chick, though much of fandom had complained that the fishnets were tacky. DC’s answer to that, apparently, was to re-tool her costume and add even MORE fishnets? Up her ARMS, no less? What the hell, guys. This is the stuff that makes me want to cuss my head off. (I’m trying to tone it down—it isn’t easy.) It’s just the most senseless outfit of all the redesigns, and that’s saying a lot considering there is some genuinely BAD stuff out there. My eyes … they bleed.
Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this book. The Birds of Prey, to me, has always been about friendship. Well, it’s about girls kicking ass too, but mostly, it’s friendship. The unfailing, strong-in-the-face-of-all-danger, love-you-no-matter-how-many-times-you-screw-up friendship between Dinah and Barbara. Then Huntress eventually came along and stirred the pot, and the book became even more amazing because the relationships built between the three women was not something that was found in any other DC book, or any other comic book period. Add Zinda Blake to the mix, and things still kept getting stronger. Four ladies, four unshakeable ties. A family. That was the Birds of Prey. And I came back for it month after month after month, because it felt like these were my girls. You find things you relate to and after so many years of a book like this, you build these immensely personal ties and attachment to it. Not having the Birds anymore—my Birds—is heartwrenching.
This? If they had called Duane Swierczynski’s version anything else—anything at all other than “Birds of Prey,” I might have actually been able to swallow this. But I can’t. I keep looking at this book hoping that it’s what it was—what I want it to be, but it’s not, and I’m not MEANT to look at it that way. We’re supposed to look at it as something new. It’s its own thing. DC is asking us not to compare it to what came before. But that’s really unfair, and it’s just not something I can do. DC built this attachment of mine; they gave me a security blanket that I loved and loved, and they can’t expect me to throw it away for some new toy.
I’m genuinely sorry about it, too, because the artwork on this was flawless. One issue and I am already a huge Jesus Saiz fan. And as much as I wasn’t crazy about Swierczynski coming on board, I have to give credit where credit is due—he writes a pretty damn good Black Canary. Maybe even second best to Gail. Unfortunately, I won’t be sticking around to see what he can do. He screwed that up for me the moment he introduced Barbara Gordon in this issue for no apparent reason whatsoever outside of raising a million continuity questions that he doesn’t proceed to answer. I can’t look at this with the new eyes that it needs. Maybe some day … but for right now, looks like I’m out.
Yeeaaahhh … I have to say, I was really on the fence about this one. I had no idea what to expect until a few weeks back when I watched this hysterical interview with Brian Azzarello about his run on the book. He has such utter disdain for the interviewer in it and he’s so frank with his responses that I couldn’t help but be oddly endeared. Suddenly, any worries I had about the title just kind of fell away.
Despite being turned off by the idea of yet another revamp for Wonder Woman, after over a year of horrible, pedantic, pointless WW issues during the “Odyssey” story arc of Straczynski’s ill-conceived run, I was suddenly DESPERATE for a title re-launch. Time to kick the lame pants and jacket, adolescent writing, and cheesecake artwork to the curb. Cliff Chiang on art duties? GODSEND. Brian Azzarello writing? Er … I hadn’t read the guy. There was a 50/50 chance this could work.
I liked this issue. It took me two reads, but I liked it. The first read through was a little rough—Azzarello wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to introduce a “horror” element to Wonder Woman, and at first, it just seemed like a whole bunch of violence and gore. But on the second read through, the issue took a much better shape, and I caught things I didn’t catch the first time around. The tone was different, and I actually liked it. It was hard, but in a good way. Azzarello re-introduces some of the Greek gods, and for the first time in a long time—maybe ever—they actually come across really cool, powerful, and scary. When was the last time the gods were actually scary? They SHOULD be scary. It’s refreshing to see. Especially interesting is the fact that this doesn’t feel as “mythological” as it actually is. You’re not watching the gods walk around in togas and hang out on Olympus the way you did during Greg Rucka’s run (which I loved as well). It’s not in-your-face ancient mythology. It’s modern day, and it WORKS. So much so that I’m surprised.
The story involves a human girl named Zola who has unknowingly gotten herself mixed up in godly affairs—literally—and it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect her from the wrath of who we presume to be Hera and Apollo. I was very concerned with how Wonder Woman would come across under Azzarello’s pen. Would she just be a violent Amazonian? Would she retain any of her compassion? Would she wear pants? (Just kidding.) My favorite renditions of Wonder Woman have always been the loving, empathetic ones—Simone’s and Rucka’s. An overly violent Wonder Woman goes against the grain of everything the character represents.
That said, she isn’t afraid to kick ass when ass needs kicking. She isn’t afraid to kill if it’s what must be done (see Maxwell Lord). And in this issue, Wonder Woman kicks a lot of ass in what is one of the most well-choreographed, beautifully drawn fight scenes I’ve read in ages. Cliff Chiang kills on this book, illustrating a Wonder Woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but can also show concern where it’s called for.
Did this completely fire on all cylinders for me? Not entirely. I have a few nitpicks, to be sure—for example, this being her own title book, it felt oddly as though Wonder Woman somehow wasn’t in it very much. I also wasn’t crazy about the use of her lasso in one scene, and I feel like some of the dialogue can be tweaked as we move forward. But overall, this is a HUGE improvement over the garbage Wonder Woman fans have had to suffer through over the past year. I am most definitely on board here, and the creative team has set my expectations high. For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait for the next issue of Wonder Woman.
…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.
- 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!
Actually, it’s only Flashpoint for now. For the next hour(s) it takes me to write this, because that’s absolutely all I can take of it. After that, I’m reading Walking Dead and X-Men: Legacy and calling it a day. Helloooo, four-day weekend.
Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 – I read this book first, despite the fact that Emperor Aquaman came out before it. I’d seen a preview online of the first few pages and was taken in by the artwork, so I just had to grab this up, and I actually wound up loving it overall (first time I’ve enjoyed a Wonder Woman book in over a year). The story opens up with a great scene that just so perfectly captures naïve, happy, laughing Diana and makes me miss the Wonder Woman I know and love all that much more—ironic that she’s not actually the Wonder Woman I know and love. We’re quickly introduced to Aquaman by way of baby Kraken, and although I suspected some of what would happen (yes, Diana’s mother is killed, because apparently there’s some decree that Hippolyta must die every year), there are still some nice twists I didn’t see coming that add another layer to the story. Good job by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in keeping things fresh via these twists, rather than recycling the same old lazy narrative over and over. The artwork, which piqued my interest in the first half of the book, got a little weird toward the middle and started to fall flat toward the end. It’s an odd style to try to describe, as the backgrounds have almost a CGI feel to them, but I didn’t entirely despise it. At least, I didn’t let it detract from the story and from the better pencils. If you’ve picked up Emperor Aquaman and if you’re at all interested in the behind-the-scenes of the Flashpoint world, I encourage you to pick up this title.
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 – So, it’s a good thing I read Wonder Woman and the Furies first, because this would more or less have spoiled everything otherwise. While the former title shows us the backstory of Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s encounter, this title skips ahead into the Flashpoint world as we know it. It’s a nasty one where Aquaman has a grudge to bear, and he shows it by drowning the heck out of Rome. Let me take a moment to say that this is where Ardian Syaf’s pencilwork absolutely excels; Michelangelo’s Pietà floating in the background, Aquaman swimming menacingly through the water, paying absolutely no attention to the dead bodies polluting it—that stuff is gold. Wussy, old school Aquaman? He ain’t here. This Aquaman is villainous, and he’s even got the butch, redundant buzzcut to prove it. Amazing. You absolutely should read this if you want to have any hope of understanding the war between the Atlantians and Amazons. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, nor is the end “surprise” of the issue anything that you couldn’t already deduce, but this slightly above middle-of-the-road work is sufficient for a tie-in and the writing is decidedly better than some of the other stuff running. Let’s see what happens next issue.
Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1 – Umm… I honestly don’t know what I just read. Maybe I’m zoning out because I read it so late last night and was on the verge of falling asleep, or maybe it’s just because the book was completely uninspired. Wow. Yeah, that was genuinely bad … then again, I saw “J.T. Krul” written on the cover and didn’t expect much, so I guess I wasn’t let down. I generally like the guy’s story ideas, but his execution is typically poor. There’s just too much that doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel natural, particularly some of the dialogue. It’s too forced. Too rushed. I wasn’t buying it, and that makes me sad, because this is DEADMAN and the FLYING GRAYSONS, for goodness’ sake. This should be AWESOME! But … it’s not. And aside from like, one page, it’s completely unessential reading. We waste half the book on nothing—absolute nothing, because the set up (happy Grayson family juxtaposed with cranky egotistical Boston Brand) could have been accomplished in four pages instead of the ten it took. Boring, and so very cookie-cutter. The only positive I can give this title at all is that the rendering on the artwork was rather lovely. Unfortunately, that alone is not worth my time. Passing on the rest of this.
Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1 – Now here’s one that really confuses me. This is written by the same team who did Wonder Woman and the Furies, so I expected something more than what I actually got from this issue. Maybe it’s the pressure of writing two three-issue tie-ins at the same time with a limited window in which to get them done and published, but … that’s really no excuse, is it? I was let down by Lois Lane and the Resistance. Especially when you look at the cover. Check that out. I’ll be among the first to tell you not to fall for what you see on a cover, but that totally sets you up for something different than what’s being offered here, at least so far. I also hated the interior art, and the entire thing overall just felt so … 1991. The story itself? Nothing to write home about. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are trapped in Europe when Aquaman’s big drowning wave hits, and Jimmy Olsen bites the bullet. Did I just spoil that? No, I promise you I didn’t, because his scene—which should have been emotional and tragic—just fell completely flat and took place in all of one panel where you don’t even see him. You just see water, and Lois Lane cries “JIMMY! OLSEN!” Disappointing. What feels like two minutes after that rush of flood and death, the big bad Amazons appear out of nowhere and “rescue” the select people they see fit to rescue. I put “rescue” in quotation marks because these Amazons are just so darn mean and tough and bad that it really isn’t a rescue so much as arguable enslavement. And in the context of the story, none of this makes any sense. Groan. As let down as I was by this issue, I’ll still probably check out the next one to see if it gets any better. I demand to see a badass Lois Lane leading a Resistance at some point in this mess. Let’s get on that.
The score is Likes: 2, Dislikes: 2. That’s a better result than I anticipated, though I suspect it would be heavily swayed toward the latter if I were to read more of these.
Okay—I’m out! Everyone be sure to fire up those grills and have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Go out and get some sun!