Monday, September 01, 2014

My Latest Reviews

A whole bunch of comics, in alphabetical order.

Astro City 14
Astro City is a special pleasure when it comes to comic books. The cast is only limited by Kurt Busiek, which allows for a wide variety of stories that never seem to get stale. In "Ellie's Friends," we meet an older woman, Ellie, who has been salvaging and repairing killer 'bots destroyed in battles with the world's superheroes. And by repair, she does more than put them back together; she fixes their programming so they become innocuous. She sets them up in a little roadside museum where by day, they stand around like statues, and by night, they interact with her the way friends do. And all is well until her nephew comes to stay, a man with trouble written all over him, a man with plans that end up getting Ellie into trouble. The "relative getting the protagonist into trouble" is not an original plot, but in Busiek's hands, it becomes a moving story, thanks in part to Ellie's strong voice in the narration. The art by Brent Eric Anderson has just the right amount of realism. I can't wait for part 2.

COWL 4
This superhero romp through the labor movement -- and what a perfect book to review on the US Labor Day holiday! -- in Chicago during the early-'60s blends history and fiction together in a very plausible way.  With the heroes now on strike for a better contract, things get heated and out of control. And there's still the matter of a possible enemy within, but politics get in the way of the investigation. A very different kind of superhero book and one that is very enjoyable. Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel deserve many kudos for this book, as do Rod Reis and Stephane Perger for the art.

Dream Police 4
Dream cop Joe Thursday can no longer deny that something is amiss in the dream realm, not when messages from a partner he can't recall keep intruding. He decides to pursue answers no matter the cost as the story moves into the next stage. An interesting fantasy story from the mind of J. Michael Straczynski that's keeping me wanting more.

Fairest 28
A compromise is found for the demand for Glamours and Reynard, after meeting rejection from Snow, ends up in a barn where a sexy young woman in a bad home situation finds him. The foxy fox gets lucky in the sack, but then comes trouble. And Fairest is back on track.

Harley Quinn 10
Harley learns a hard lesson about Skate Club: there are no rules, except for the rules. The usual nuttiness we love about Harley.

Red Sonja 0
I really like the cover by Gabriel Hardman. A decent one-off by Gail Simone that has a lout telling a tale about Red Sonja being dead and how they'd been married and how much they loved each other. Except Sonja shows up. Not bad.

Red Sonja 11
Sonja continues her quest to gather up the artisans required to arrange the release of a thousand slaves. In this chapter, her quest brings her to a church, where, as expected, she meets resistance. This arc isn't as good as the first one was, but it's a decent tale.

Saga 22
I don't think Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples can do any wrong. As with every other issue in this book, the writing is pitch perfect and the art a perfect complement. A lot of things go on in this chapter, but the main thing is that Marko finds out Alana is doing drugs and they fight and she tells him to "LEAVE!" All relationships have their ups and downs, but I didn't want any downs to this one, damnit!

Terminal Hero 1
An experimental and illicit treatment for a young man's deadly brain tumor gives him hallucinations and dangerous powers that feed off his emotions. An intriguing start to this story written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Piotr Kowalski.

Friday, August 29, 2014

There Are No Words

So DC doesn't want humor in its movies, according to this report. Granted, not every Marvel is the laugh riot Guardians of the Galaxy is, along with its very serious parts, but humor is part of life. Laughing is a very human reaction to things funny or even sad. It's a sign of having fun and it's a way to relieve stress. Batman isn't a funny guy, so Dick Grayson as Robin brought the comic relief. The Batman movies don't have Robin, so yeah, the recent trilogy was pretty dour and that's fine. But Superman? Sheesh. Just because you haven't done a good job with adding in humor doesn't mean you give up. You get better scripts, better directing, and you'll likely end up with better movies.

I guess I found some words for this, after all. ;)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Bunch of Reviews

Always behind, always trying to catch up. Here's what I read most recently.

Shutter 5
This odd book just gets odder. Kate discovers she has a brother, who apparently was born a couple of years after their father died! I love this crazy book.

Legenderry 6
The penultimate issue finds Sonja, her memories of being Red Sonja restored, traveling with Zorro. A fun tale with really nice art.

Captain Marvel 6
Carol Danvers triumphs over J-Son as this intergalactic adventure comes to a satisfying conclusion. Captain Marvel needs her own movie. Really.

Ms. Marvel 7
Kamala and Wolverine make for fun partners and Logan gives her some useful advice on how to be a hero.

Red Hood and the Outlaws 34
This concluding chapter of Kory seeking vengeance of her former slaver, though nice drawn by RB Silva and Cory Smith, and inked by Wayne Faucher and Smith, reads like a cliche. This story by Scott Lobdell has been told countless times in all media, climaxing with the typical "if you kill him, you either continue to give him power over you or you become as evil as he is" dilemma. I really expected better.

Harley Quinn 9
Harley has a stalker. Who kidnaps her. If anyone can get out of a tight spot like that, it's Harley. Fun story, as usual.

World's Finest 26
Kara and Helena are back on their Earth, which I really don't care about. What is interesting is that the explosion on the main Earth, which resulted from sending Kara and Helena through the dimensional barrier or whatever seems to have created a new Power Girl. If they keep that character, DC might have something special on their hands because she's tough, a minority, and fun.

Veil 4
The penultimate chapter of this horror story about a demon brought into the world in the guise of a woman to serve an evil man. I'm not typically a horror reader, but this has been pretty good.

Jennifer Blood Born Again 1
I figured this was over, but they came up with a sequel story, and it's not bad. Jennifer's lying low in a cult, but reports of Jennifer Blood on a new killing spree looks to bring her out of hiding.

COWL 3
This Cold War super-powered spy story focuses a bit more on the way women were treated in the early 1960s and how frustrated a super-powered woman can get, a woman who can do everything her colleagues can do and more, yet she's treated like a pin-up girl or decoration. As for the story, the search for the mole inside the agency continues. I'm really enjoying this book.

Friday, August 08, 2014

A Few Reviews

From last week and this week.

Lazarus 10
Kind of a bridge story, revealing what happened to Jonah Carlyle after he fled the family compound after his treachery in trying to kill Forever was revealed. It isn't pretty. I almost felt sorry for him.

Painkiller Jane 2: The 22 Brides
Second chapter of a trilogy. Jane, Maureen, and the Brides continue to hunt down the person or persons behind the mystery bombings. The photo cover really set the scene. They're working on a movie adaptation and I can't wait. Jane is a wonderful, kick ass character who deserves a movie.

Legendary Star Lord 2
After seeing the movie -- "Guardians of the Galaxy," duh -- I picked up the weekly comics and had this to read on the way home. So much Star Lord goodness. Peter meets his half-sister and their relationship gets off to a rocky start. Fun, but not nearly as fun as the movie. The movie is freakin' awesome!

Black Widow 9
Punisher guest stars. I really don't see much story here. Natasha is hunting terrorists and there's this mystery ship and, well, not much happens. I keep feeling as if I'm missing stuff, like words are missing here and there. If not for the gorgeous Phil Noto art, I would have dropped this already.

Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego 1
I'm not sure why this has an issue number. ;) It's about what you'd expect from Harley, especially with Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner writing. Also, the all-star line-up of artists isn't too shabby, either. Harley attends SDCC and craziness ensues. Fun fun fun.

Harley Quinn 8
Harley foils a robbery and gets over-zealous during a roller derby match. If you enjoy wacky humor, this is the book for you.

Hawkeye 19
Finally! After the beating from last time we saw the Barton brothers, Clint has lost his hearing and his spirit and Barney's in a wheelchair and trying to get Clint to fight back. But what makes this book so special is the unique storytelling of writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, especially the parts in sign language, along with empty word balloons to help the reader experience the dialogue as Clint experiences it. This is a special book.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Some Comics

As we wait for Wednesday, here are reviews of some comics I read.

Red Hood and the Outlaws 33
Scott Lobdell is back on writing chores and I'm not sure I'm happy about that. I loved his work on the book when it launched, but this go 'round, it feels as if Tynion's run never happened. Kori, Roy, and Jason feel as if Lobdell is picking up where he left off and that makes them feel a bit younger, a bit stagnated. I enjoyed the start of the new story, but I was not feeling the magic. Nice art by RB Silva.

Ms. Marvel 6
A major character guest stars! And what a team-up it is: Kamala and Wolverine! And it works! A fun book keeps getting better.

Legenderry 5
I shouldn't have been surprised by the big reveal at the end of this chapter, but I was, probably because it's so long between issues. I might have to read the whole thing in one sitting once it concludes.

Velvet 6
"The Secret Lives of Dead Men" begins, which is really more the next chapter in Velvet Templeton's life than an entirely new story as she continues in her quest to uncover the mole in the agency who set her up. Slowly, Velvet's background is revealed along the way. Ed Brubaker is one of my favorite writers, Steve Epting's art is brilliant and perfect for the timeframe (1973, with flashbacks), and this is one of my favorite comics.

Saga 21
I think I ran out of superlatives for this book ages ago. It's fun, it's thought-provoking, it's got amazing art, it's got wonderful characters (toddler Hazel, the narrator, is adorable), and it still manages to be serious and shocking. This chapter furthers the current story as Alana continues to be the breadwinner, Marko handles childcare, and things in the robot world aren't going too well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thor and Related Matters

I don't read Thor, just follow the character in the movies, so the announcement that Marvel was introducing a new Thor who is female because the son of Odin was no longer worthy didn't matter much to me as a reader. But as a comic book fan, I am interested in what it means. The Comics Beat looks at the announcement, how it was made and what it could mean in the long term, because odds are, this isn't a permanent change.

Let's face it, Superman didn't stay dead, nor did Batman. I don't follow Marvel all that much, but I believe a lot of changes were eventual undone, and the article points out a few of them, including Steve Rogers not being Captain America, then becoming him again. One change in gender that seems perfect to me is Carol Danvers taking over as Captain Marvel.

This article that looks at female readership of comics is also worth reading. A valid point is made that the move from newsstand to direct market sales cost a lot of comics, especially Archies, their female readers. I'm fortunate that I discovered a comic book convention in NY in the '70s, thanks to an editorial comment in a lettercol, and from a con, I eventually discovered a comic book store and started shopping there. I was one of a very few females who shopped there, but I was never made to feel I didn't belong, which apparently, is a rarity. My only break from comics was from the mid-'80s to the early-'90s, and that was due to DC killing off the original Supergirl and not anything to do with marketing.

But I do take a bit of exception from this sentiment, from the second article:
"I think it’s fine to have boy-focused material like Batman or Spider-Man or whatever, as long as you don’t use boy focused material as “proof” that women don’t read comics. It’s like saying that just because guys overwhelmingly like Transformers movies, women don’t like any movies. It’s exactly like that."

Because, see, I like those boy-focused books, too. I like Batman (well, I did before the reboot, but that's another issue). And I'll bet there are boys who enjoy or would enjoy female-centric comics, but are too embarrassed to admit it because they'd be teased unmercifully.

Sure, there are gender differences when it comes to reading, but a lot of that is imposed on kids when they're young, via parental attitudes, societal influence, etc. And even with that, there's a middle ground, an overlapping. I read romance comics, for instance, but gave them up when I hit puberty. I preferred action/adventure. I preferred superheroes. I don't tend to like reading about characters I can identify with as much as I enjoy reading about ones who are different than me. And I enjoy variety. Sure, I loved Supergirl. She was the closest to my age, as I've mentioned before, and we kind of grew up together, but I wouldn't want all the comics I read to be about characters like her. I want to read about all sorts of characters doing exciting things and it doesn't matter to me which sex they are or identify with. There are still newsstand comics, too; they're sold in the magazine section of Barnes & Noble (at least in NYC), though I agree with the article that digital comics serve well as a newsstand if you can read digitally (I can do text but reading comics on a screen bothers my eyes after too short a time). 

I think once we stop making distinctions of boy and girl comics or boy and girl pretty much everything considered entertainment or educational, we'll truly be making progress toward gender equality.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ooooo Reveiws

And some of these reviews are in a timely fashion!

Shutter 4
A quirky comic gets quirkier. Kate learns some of her family's secrets, but only the tip of the iceberg. Strange doesn't begin to cover it. A fun fantasy that resembles our world, only with creatures of all types, including a skeleton butler. Joe Keatinge has crafted an entertaining realm and Leila Del Duca's art is perfect.

Captain Marvel 5
Carol discovers what's really going on at Torfa which changes everything. And boy, is she ticked. I can't wait for the next chapter.

World's Finest 25
The last adventure for Huntress and Power Girl on Earth-1 before, by story's end, they return to Earth-2. I stopped reading Earth-2 months ago and am not sure how long I'll continue with this. I love the characters and I like Levitz' writing, but I don't really like the overall new-52 DCU and now this book seems more a part of the new order than before.

Legendary Star-Lord 1
All I know about Peter Quill is what I've read here and there and the Guardians of the Galaxy's recent appearances in Captain Marvel. But I wasn't lost in reading this. Peter's personality comes through and the story is intriguing. I'll keep reading, but I do plan to read up on his background.

Veil 1-3
I have a hard time resisting comics written by Greg Rucka, so I took a chance on this, even though I don't generally read horror. Or anything full of rats. But this story about a naked woman who awakens in a subway station with no memory and wanders the streets of NY until a man takes her in and tries to help her is a well-written, intriguing mystery, especially since the woman seems to have unworldly powers. By the end of the third issue, it's clear that the dark arts are involved and that she might've been created for a purpose, but to what end? Another winner from Rucka.

Harley Quinn 0: Director's Cut
I didn't get the Zero issue, so this is a double treat: the actual not-story of Harley trying out new artists for her then-upcoming book, and Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner commenting on each page. Some of the actual script pages are included and some commentary from a few of the other artists. A real treat is the art contest page conducted for the issue. Along with the winning page, we get to see the runners-up, and it's fun to see how different artists handled the same directions. Some great, fun art in this.