Saturday, February 21, 2015

Week in Reviews

Image Comics continues to dominate my pull list, though this batch of reviews includes 3 Marvel titles, 2 Image titles, and one from DC. So Marvel wins this round, but only due to the timing of publishing schedules.

Bitch Planet 3
Every third issue is a one-off for this comic, with writer DeConnick focusing on one of the inmates' backstory, with a guest artist. This issue tells us about Penny Rolle. Penny really comes alive as an actual person via slices from her life pre-incarceration and if you don't get angry on her behalf at the injustice done her, you're just an unfeeling... well, you get the idea. This is an important comic and I can't recommend it enough.

Lazarus 15
AKA when the sh*t hits the fan. Or, when the status quo changes. Hock vs Carlyle with Forever Carlyle battling Hock's designated lazarus champion, with the actual fight comprising the bulk of the issue. Rucka's strong control of the dystopian world he's created is impressive and Lark's art is scarily realistic. Kudos, too, for the coloring by Arcas. And that ending.... Argh. I can't wait til next month.

Black Widow 15
Natasha continues to battle Chaos, with an assist from the Winter Soldier! For some reason, it never seems like much happens in each issue, and yet, a lot does. I love the art, I love the action, and I'm hoping the conclusion makes it all worth it, but for some reason, I can't completely get into this book.

Ms. Marvel 12
A one-off with Loki sent to see if any of the Inventor's minions are still lurking about Kamala's school. And Loki being Loki and this being a Valentine's Day story, Loki plays Cupid. Sorta. Fun stuff.

Legendary Star-Lord 9
I have no idea why I bothered reading this since I'm not reading the other books in the Black Vortex storyline and I have no idea who half the heroes are. But it was pretty to look at.

Red Hood and the Outlaws 39
Aside from rehashing character development from earlier in the series, Komand'r finds Kori, pretends to want to kill her, but then saves her life. Meanwhile, Rose Wilson shows up while Jason and Roy are looking for Kori because she's got a contract and then there's a big reunion with everyone, and then the baddies show up. And all of this is no big deal, just another comic book story. I'd really hoped for more depth when Lobdell returned to this book.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Get Your Reviews Here

I'm really tired of hearing the phrase "Arctic Blast." Yesterday, I was huddled in my living room, under 2 layers of sweaters and a blanket and that's with the heat on. To say my apartment gets cold when the wind picks up and the temps are well below freezing is an understatement. I did read some comics, though my fingers got numb and my hands were shaking. ;)

Bitch Planet 1-2
I missed getting this when issue 1 first came out, bought issue 2, then read them both after issue 1 was reprinted. All I can say is "Wow." Kelly Sue DeConnick reaches new heights with this book and the art by Valentine De Landro is perfect. This is a smart, sassy -- and yes, bitchy -- book, a feminist manifesto in comic book form, and all too appropriate and needed given today's attacks on women's rights. Feminism, for those who believe the stereotype and propaganda, is not about women taking over or being forced to give up staying at home to raise children; it's about treating all people as equals, male and female and anything in between, however people define themselves. It's about more than equality based on sex identification, but also across race and religion. It's about all of us being in this together, all us humans. Bitch Planet takes the concept that women should comply with societal norms to an extreme, but given the political reality these days, not much of an extreme. Extremes are the bread and butter of science fiction, the way literature/art often makes a point. In this case, it's an important point, one that's wrapped in a darn good story. Women who don't comply are sentenced to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost known colloquially as "Bitch Planet," a prison where the inmates are recorded and broadcast for the entertainment of Earth viewers. The characters we've met so far come alive in just a few panels and I'm looking forward to spending time with each of them, every month.

Harley Quinn: Valentine's Day Special
Conner and Palmiotti continue their series of Harley Holiday Specials, complete with dream sequences to allow wonderful fill-in artists to help out with the art chores and give the book some extra oomph. The overall story has Harley trying to win a date with Bruce Wayne during a charity auction. Fun as always.

Shutter 9
The saga of Kate Kristopher and her mysterious family gets even weirder, but we finally get to the actual mystery. Only some members can access the magical Porticullis Hypnos of Prof. Harold Rathborn. In the next issue, we get to see where it takes her and her wacky and dangerous sister she never knew she had, as they go through the porticullis to find Kate's mother, who might be the key to finding their father, and.... Just trying to describe this story gives me a headache, but it's fairly fun. Keatinge is a decent writer and Del Duca's art is appropriately weird. I just hope the story's payoff is worth it.

Captain Marvel
Carol returns to her ship -- well, Stark's ship -- only to find Tic and Chewie missing after an attack by Haffensye ships. For some reason, the Haffensye think Chewie can help them fight Mister Knife. I can't wait for the next chapter. DeConnick shared writing chores with Warren Ellis, and David Lopez's art is a dream. I love Carol's facial expressions.

Astro City 20
Continuing the tale of aging heroes, filling in more backstory, while being an excellent character study. The thing I most love about this series is how real the characters feel. You can actually believe they're real, that superpowers exist and the heroes with them are just like us. Busiek is a master and Anderson's art is wonderful. And it's hard to beat Alex Ross on covers.


Saturday, February 07, 2015

Stack of Comics

I think this batch of reviews covers 2 weeks, or close enough.

Astro City 19
The story of an aging superhero continues, delving into her past as well as the challenges she faces as she grows older. Great stuff her, even if you're not super-powered, about trying to stay on top of your game even as your physical skills decline.

COWL 8
I have no idea where this is going, but the intrigue continues in this unique approach to super-heroing. As the COWL heroes strike, and new threats arise, tension mounts as some heroes cross the picket lines, symbolically if not literally. And the death of one of their own by a fellow hero's hand, weighs heavily. The superhero genre has never (at least in my reading) been this complicated.

Fairest 33
Goldilocks is one badass villainess, not to mention power mad and not the most mentally stable Fable. I'm going to miss this comic. Yeah, I know there's still Fables, but I haven't been reading it and there are a LOT of issues to read if I want to be caught up with it.

Gotham Academy 4
The fun continues as Olive hunts down clues in her attempt to solve the mystery of the academy and her own past. I love how this book is part of the DCU yet stands on its own.

Harley Quinn 14
Harley has a bad and busy day, when everything seems to go wrong, which can happen when you over-schedule. The usual fun nonsense.

Hawkeye 21
Fraction, Aja, and, Hollingsworth's run nears its end as things look dire for Cliff. It's been so long since the last installment, I'd forgotten where things stood, but the book nicely catches us up. I'm going to miss Fraction and Aja's take on Hawkeye, which ends in one more issue, but I'm looking forward to what the next creative team will bring to the character.

Ms. Marvel 11
Kamala embraces the power of teamwork to take down the Inventor. A totally delightful book and a satisfying conclusion to the current story.

Saga 25
It's heart-breaking to have Marko and Alana apart, especially with Marko separated from Hazel. This book continues to hit all the emotions.

Velvet 9
The more Velvet learns about the conspiracy against her, the more questions that need answers. And can she trust any of the answers she does get? Brubaker is an expert at spinning mystery yarns, and this is one of his best. He has me at the edge of my seat, waiting for the next revelation, the next installment. And I love Velvet Templeton, a spy who can stand with the best of 'em.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Big News from DC

So, after Convergence, which I won't be reading, DC will be redoing their entire line again, continuing some comics and starting a bunch of new ones. No longer to be called the New 52, though continuing with that reality, while diversifying and expanding their approach to characters and storytelling. And that sounds great. I just don't know what to make of it, or what I'll want to read.

I'll continue with Harley Quinn, and read Palmiotti and Conner's Harley/Power Girl mini series. And I'll stick with the fun Gotham Academy. But I'm not sure what else I'll try. The new Black Canary might be worth looking at; ditto Starfire. But Red Hood/Arsenal? I was enjoying seeing Roy with Kori, but she, apparently, will no longer be in the book with him, so does that mean they break up? Or are these completely different versions of these characters? I might try the first issue, but really, I'm getting tired of revamps. I can put up with that in the Marvel 'verse because I haven't been reading about those characters for 50 plus years. With DC, I have.

But I do applaud DC for changing their approach. I think at this point, a comic book publisher needs to be looser and more flexible, able to mix things up as readership and society changes, keeping current. This approach is designed to appeal to more women and to younger readers as well as we older folks. So, we'll see how it works out for them. But for me, Image has become my favorite comics publisher and that isn't likely to change any time soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Catching Up Reviews

Been too busy playing with my 1:6 action figures than reading comics, but here's what I've read since last time.

Red Hood and the Outlaws 38
I'm really not sure what to think about this book. It's not bad. It's well written and this issue did a nice bit with Crux, but the title continues to feel like rehashed story.

Legendary Star-Lord 8
Peter and Kitty together, in person, in the same room! And Kitty learns just what's in Peter's heart and soul when the visit the orphanage. There's some stuff about J-son, too, and it'll continue in something I'm not going to read. Oh well.

Black Widow 14
In watching and rewatching "Captain America: Winter Soldier" on Starz all weekend, I've been struck by how funny/sarcastic Natasha can be. This version of Natasha isn't anything like that, maybe because there's no time or anyone for her to tease. At any rate, she continues her war against Chaos, which has me wondering if Maxwell Smart of CONTROL will show up. ;) A decent chapter in this ongoing saga.

Copperhead 5
The first arc concludes in a more satisfying way than I was expecting. The mystery was solved, and not completely to formula, and relationships, if not quite friendships, are forged. I'll keep reading, for now.

Lazarus 14
This book continues to enthrall me. Forever is tasked with killing her brother, while also learning some truths about her origin. Comic book science fiction at its best.

Captain Marvel 11
It might be January, but this is the concluding chapter to last month's Christmas story. Fine entertainment, indeed.

Shutter 8
The weirdness just keeps multiplying as Kate meets more family members. I'm enjoying this, but I'm not sure why. It's not what I typically read. But it is fun and quirky and I do like quirky.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Comics Reading Challenge

This reading challenge from Panels is interesting. I might try it. Here's their list of things to read, and some comments from me.

Read a comic book from the Golden Age (30s to early 50s).
  • hmmmm..... I read a lot of comics from the '50s when I was growing up, but probably more Silver Age. I do have some reprints of Golden Age books. I could reread those.

Read a comic book that features a creative team representing more than one gender.
  • Got that covered, with Harley Quinn, Saga, and some others.

Read a comic book originally published in Europe.
  • This will involve some research.

Read a piece of comics journalism.
  • I suppose all the comics news blogs I read would count, along with articles from Panels. Also, Comic Shop News, maybe.

Read a self-contained graphic novel.
  • I've got lots here, just need to get to them.

Read a comic book from an independent publisher.
  • Hmmmmmm..... I think I need a list of which publishers are considered "independent." Is Image one of them? I read so many Image titles now.

Read a comic book by an all-female creative team.
  • I have in the past. Would have to see what I read now or what might be out there that interests me.

Read a comic book about a culture other than your own.
  • Often do. I prefer to read things about cultures not my own. I read a lot of that in books. I would think Ms. Marvel counts, given she's Muslim and I'm not.

Read a comic book about a religion other than your own.
  • Ms. Marvel would count for this, too.

Read a comic book marketed for children or all-ages.
  • I think Gotham Academy counts.

Read a comic book that features an LGBTQ character.
  • I was reading Batwoman. I could reread them. I'm sure there are other gay characters in comics I read, but I'll need to check, or look for others.

Read a comic book that won an Eisner Award.
  • I'm sure I already do, but maybe I'll check the list and see what else there is that interests me.

Read a webcomic.
  • This is the tough one. They're hard on my eyes, so I'll have to pass on this one.

Read a comic book starring anthropomorphic animals (for Paul).
  • Well, there's Rocket. And I have comics here with Detective Chimp. I miss him. And I can always dig out my Howard the Duck collection.

Read a volume of manga.
  • Probably not.

Read a comic book written and drawn by the same person.
  • Another hmmmmm..... I'll need to check for a list. I don't think I'm currently reading any like that. I suppose Roz Chast counts. Might have to get something by her.

Read a collection of comic strips.
  • Oh, please. I grew up on comic strips. I have so many collections here. I do need to catch up with my Modesty Blaise collections, and there are the reprint collections of Mary Perkins: On Stage. That comic strip was my favorite when I was growing up. I loved Leonard Starr's art.

Read a comic about a non-traditional superhero.
  • Not sure what this would be. Any of the ones in Astro City, perhaps? Any suggestions?

  • I've got a bunch here, many unread, so I should do this.

Read a comic book featuring non-traditional art.
  • Another one where I'm not sure what it means. 

Read a new-to-you comic from the library.
  • I think good ol' NYPL has comics now, or at least graphic novels or collections, but I much prefer to buy than to borrow.

Read a science fiction comic book.
  • I'm reading some now: Saga, Lazarus, Copperhead. Well, I consider them science fiction. I did read a lot when I was a kid: Strange Adventures, mostly.

Read a fantasy comic book.
  • Superheroes are, actually fantasy, except for some that are science fiction. Shutter seems rather fantastical.

Read a comic set in a country other than your own.
  • I'm sure many I read have done stories set elsewhere.

  • This item links to a list, but I think a lot of controversy is subjective. I could reread The Killing Joke or Identity Crisis. No, not Identity Crisis. Maybe I'll just reread the Speedy heroin story from Green Lantern/Green Arrow, one of my favorite stories, though it seems almost quaint now.

Read a comic with a villain for the protagonist.
  • Does Harley Quinn count? Or I could just reread Gail Simone's classic Secret Six book.



Friday, January 09, 2015

Cold Start to Year

There were no new comics (for me) the last week of the year and this week has been so cold, I decided to take advantage of one of the benefits of retirement and not go out. But the snow has stopped now and the temperature is supposed to get as warm as freezing, so I'll probably go out today. Meanwhile, I caught up with Harley Quinn (wacky and fun as ever) and Red Sonja (issue 13, start of a new story arc). Is it just me or is Red Sonja getting boring? Probably just me.