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.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Bunch of Reviews

Got a fair amount of comics read this past week, so let's get to what I thought of them.

Fairest 27
Aside from the gorgeous Adam Hughes cover, this was rather fun as the Farm animals are in an uproar over promised glamours that were never delivered. Reynard, our favorite fox, is back which is always a good thing.

Lazarus 9
Some good things happen and some not so good, but a satisfying issue as we learn just how the actual Lift works, while Forever continues searching for the terrorist out to sabotage it. My second favorite Image comic after Saga.

Black Widow 8
There's a real minimalist feel to this comic, to the point I'm not sure what's really going on. That might be due to not reading many Marvel titles, but Winter Soldier guest stars, and that's a good thing!

Shutter 1-3
I can't think of an odder comic, but it's also a fun comic focusing (ha-ha) on Kate Kristopher, one-time adventurer/explorer who has given up the life and wants to live quietly, but a family secret won't let her. The family butler is a skeleton, there are all sorts of critters and creatures living among humans, and the real story is just beginning! Worth a try if you like odd, quirky comics.

COWL 2
A period piece set in Chicago of 1962, when men were men and women mostly afterthoughts, if that, but not bad. The Chicago Organized Workers League are the unionized superpowered and non-powered heroes that keep the city safe, but something is threatening COWL. After the villain Skylancer was killed last issue, a COWL investigator finds union documents in his possessions. What gives the book a somewhat different perspective is how the main characters talk about heroing as a job, as if they were simply cops. I'm really curious to see where this is heading.

Dream Police 3
Dream cops Joe and Kate investigate a fellow Dream cop accused of interfering with a dreamer. A bit of a mind bender, and fun.

Ms. Marvel 5
Kamala faces facts and gets a less destructible costume. She also does some training to be better prepared to take on the Inventor. Loads of fun, great characters, snappy dialogue, family drama, intriguing villains, everything a comic should be.

Saga 20
Marko takes Hazel for dance lessons and gets chummy with the married dance instructor, while Alana works to support her family. Meanwhile, things take a dark turn in the Robot Kingdom. One of the finest comics being published.

Red Sonja 10
Sonja takes on a swordsman, only to be bested in battle, on her quest for a dying king. Entertaining chapter in a fun story.


Monday, June 23, 2014

A Few Reviews

Four this time.

Harley Quinn 7
Ivy has figured out where the threat to Harley is coming from, but who put the hit out on Harley is nothing I saw coming. And neither did Harley. Fun stuff. In a whacked out, outrageous, crazy way. I like whacked out, outrageous, and crazy.

Astro City 13
A single-issue story about a being called the Dancing Master and the lives he changes or affects in a single moment. Good stuff, but that psychodelic cover annoys me, probably because I hate yellow and pink together.

Red Hood and the Outlaws 32
The return of Scott Lobdell to writing chores. I was happy when I read he was coming back to the book, but now, I'm not so sure. I suppose the repetition and reiteration of the relationships will help newcomers to the book, but I really think we're past Jason tuning out Roy and wishing he wouldn't talk so much, yadda yadda yadda. Because it seems that Lobdell is taking the book back to where he left off, rather than moving forward from where the book was just last issue. Not everyone like Tynion's long story, though I did, but it happened and I hope Lobdell isn't treating it like a dream someone had. The three Outlaws have grown and developed so much over the past year and I want the book to reflect that as it moves on with new stories. As for the actual story, it was okay. I've already forgotten it, though. So, nothing special. And I wish the art was nicer. I don't like the faces in a lot of the panels.

Red City 1
Anything set on Mars is something I have to try and I had high hopes for this, but I don't think it's for me. I'm not thrilled with the art, the lead character leaves me cold, which given he's narrating the book, is not conducive for me to keep reading. A noir mystery set on a Mars populated by humans and aliens; should be fun. Instead, it felt so ho-hum to me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Comics Just Keep Coming

An eclectic batch of reviews.

Legenderry 4
It's been so long since the 3rd issue, I had to refresh my memory as to where things were left off. Still, it's a fun book, giving classic characters a steampunk spin. This issue features The Phantom. Bill Willingham does a nice job on writing chores, and Sergion Fernandez Davila's art is easy on the eyes.

Captain Marvel 4
No Guardians of the Galaxy this time, but Carol more than holds her own as she attempts to save the doomed refugees on a planet that's killing them. And Ja Kyee Lrurt, aka Jackie, is a great guest character.

World's Finest 24
A decent chapter in Karen and Helena's attempts to return home.

Painkiller Jane: The 22 Brides 1
I love Painkiller Jane. I loved the old series. I loved the TV series. I love the new stories, and this new new story does not disappoint. Jimmy Palmiotti is at the top of his game here. The Brides have moved up in the world, living in luxury, but they're still in the thick of things in the city, and when someone starts blowing up buildings, they join with Jane and her cop pal Maureen to get to the bottom of things in this first installment. There's a second story, too, a gritty one in which Jane tries to rescue a hostage.

Dream Police 1-2
Dreams being an actual realm outside of one's own mind is nothing new -- I've read a few science fiction novels that riff on the very same premise -- but this is an interesting take, focusing on the security force that keeps dreams in check, safe for all. J. Michael Straczynski tells his tale through a cop named Joe Thursday, with the first person narration reading like a Dragnet episode. Aside from the cases Joe and his partner, Frank Stafford, deal with, there's the unsettling questions Joe is trying to avoid, such as why don't Dream Police sleep? And when Frank steps away and Kate Black shows up and she's been his partner for as long as he can remember and he's never had a different partner, the questions become more urgent, because why does he also remember someone else who was his partner? Decent art by Sid Kotian serves the story well. I'm intrigued to see where this is going.

The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow 1
Howard Chaykin handles story and art. I've been reading a lot of Shadow variations lately and this is as good as any of them, though Chaykin's faces, especially the mouths, get more comical over the years. Everyone is grimacing; it's a bit unsettling.

Friday, June 06, 2014

What I Read Since My Last Post of Reviews

Another eclectic batch of reviews.

Ms. Marvel 4
You'd think getting shot would be bad enough, but after recovering swiftly from that, Kamala's life gets even more complicated. After confiding in her friend Bruno and getting a more practical outfit, she sets out, despite being grounded, to help Bruno's brother, only to end up facing yet more trouble. A fun book keeps getting more fun.

Astro City 12
A cautionary tale about a human wolf who tries to give up a life of crime. A self-contained story. Nothing surprising, but well done.

Black Widow 7
I'm at the point where I don't know what to make of this book. It seems even more minimalist than Hawkeye. Noto's art is stunning as always, but not much seems to happen. Natasha's latest case goes south, and while trying to squeeze intell out of the guy who tried to kill her, Daredevil shows up. Apparently, they were an item once (I haven't read much Marvel) and he's disappointed in her, that she'd use violence to get answers. They have words, she leaves, and she goes off to her next stop. Meanwhile, Isiah feeds her cat and deals with his sister who worries about him working with Natasha. I'll keep reading for the art, alone, but I wouldn't mind some more happening each issue.

COWL 1
A new book from Image. Image is one of those comics publishers -- maybe the only one -- that, if they have a new title, I'm inclined to give it a try. Kyle Higgins and Alex Siegel are writing this creator-owned title, with Rod Reis on art chores. COWL is set in 1962 and is an acronym for Chicago Organized Workers League. I'm not sure how that name fits the team of super-powered folks who work for COWL and protect the city against evil-doers, in a rather organized fashion, dividing the city up into sections with assigned teams to keep watch. There's a good '60s vibe with the men being men (and on occasion, jerks) and with one woman on the team, or at least, just one seen so far. It's got promise, especially if it works in some social commentary.

Miss Fury 10-11
This brings the series to an end. It's weird having it end on issue 11 instead of 12, and I wonder if that was intended or they got an early cancellation. In any case, given all the twists and turns leading up to issue 10, the last two issues do feel a bit rushed, but the ending was mostly satisfying. A pretty decent time travel tale all around, with some really lovely art. I hope they do a collected volume of all 11 issues.