Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Sif #1

Lady Sif is one of those characters I don’t have much experience with at all, being someone who only started reading Thor with the recent relaunch helmed by JMS a couple of years ago. That being said, I found that an encyclopediac knowledge of Sif’s history isn’t needed for this fun little romp, which was certainly nice.

Right off the bat, we’re told everything we need to know about Sif – who she is, where she’s from, what kind of woman she is, bits and pieces of her past history, everything. Even a prior relationship is alluded to enough that one understands the gravity of the situation when she comes across an old lover…who has a new friend.

The plot is a fairly simple plot, but it really works well to showcase who Sif is, and what she’s all about, and frankly, from this tale alone, I am dying to see more. Kelly Sue Deconnick has done a great job showing who Sif is – and who she has the potential to be – and I would love to see her take up writing duties on a Sif mini, ongoing, or even co-feature at the back of Thor, because its clear that this is a character with a lot of potential.

The art by Ryan Stegman is somewhat of a cross between Todd Nauck and David Lopez, but not in a bad way at all. Being someone who is not as much a fan of photorealistic art (I like my comic book art to look like fun, poppy, comic book art), I found the art to my liking quite a bit, and it certainly suited the adventure of the story.

While it’s not the best book I have ever read, out of the stable of the “Women of Marvel” stuff that Marvel has been pushing out, this is certainly one of the better ones.


***1/2 out of five.

Review: Brave and the Bold #33

Brave and the Bold isn’t one of the books that is regularly on my pull list. Rather, it’s one of those titles I’ll pick up if the characters appearing in it that month are any that I like – which this month, with it’s starring of Wonder Woman, Zatanna, and Classic Flavored Batgirl, it very much was. That JMS was on writing duties and that Cliff Chiang was doing pencils was just icing on what already seemed like a really luscious cake, though it did strike me as odd as first when I saw the three women in the cover. Despite individual dealings with each other, we had never really seen the three of them, hanging out as a trio.

Halfway through the book, a conversation started by Diana starts to explain everything, and it’s at that point that I started to get what this story was about. And man, was it a good story.

It’s a fairly simple plot, but it serves the story well, because the emotion that the latter half of the story brings is…huge, once things start clicking into place. I had to reread the ending twice because, well, I started tearing up the first time around. I’m guy enough to admit it. It was sad – and not at all what I expected the story to be about, but it certainly made a lot of sense, and makes me wish to see some more interaction between Diana, Zatanna, and Barbara, because this could be a friendship as awesome as the one shared between Barbara, Dinah Lance, and Helena Bertinelli.

The art was, of course, beautiful. Cliff Chiang draws a great Diana, and his Zatanna is simply to die for. I would love to see more work from him on that front. His Barbara – both out of costume, and as Batgirl – is great, and I really want to applaud the fact that Chiang has the ability to draw modern, trendy outfits and make them work in a comic book setting, which few artists are able to do.

Though that does bring me to my one, minor gripe, about the story. There are a ton of modern references in a story that, in DC Continuity, took place many years ago – iPhone references, references to songs that have been released in the past three years…all of that pulled me out of the story and made me wonder if we were in some alternate universe for a moment. Granted, once the second half of the story gets moving…all of that flies out the window, and what’s important is this amazing thing that these women are doing out of love, solidarity, and friendship.

**** out of five.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Greg Rucka Leaves DC Comics, Batwoman.


It's been a long time since I've last posted, I know. I should be better about this. And I intend to be.

But this is news that I simply can't ignore.

This morning, Comic Book Resources reported that Greg Rucka has turned in his last work for DC Comics and, in effect, has left the company, which has gone through many changes in recent months.

Comics Alliance has Greg Rucka stating that he left to write stories that he wanted to write again rather than "getting complacent at DC" (that is not Rucka’s quote, but a quote from CA writer David Brothers) which certainly means that there was SOMETHING going on behind the scenes that we don't know about.

This is saddening news on a number of fronts, not just because of the fact that this throws the future of Batwoman into limbo, but because of the fact that he was one of the few writers in DC's stable who could write fully realized, fully fleshed out characters who didn't stick to stereotypes of gender or sexual orientation. The only other writers who come even close to his level of creativity and writing, I think, are the indomitable Gail Simone, the amazing writing team that is Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, and the criminally underused Marc Andreyko. If you disagree with me, I urge you to pick up Gail's first run on Birds of Prey (issues 56-108), Gray & Palmiotti on both Hawkman and Power Girl, and Andreyko on Manhunter.

I don't know the particulars of why Rucka left DC Comics, but he certainly isn't the first writer to do so, and that makes me wonder just what is going on behind the scenes at DC. Sure, every company has their issues, but to lose someone who was on as high profile a book as Detective Comics was is just terrible. It really is, in many ways, the equivalent of Marvel having lost JMS, whose Spider-Man and Thor runs were new, original, and so well done.

I honestly wonder if this is due to the fact that Dan Didio and Geoff Johns had different plans for Kate Kane, and if they didn't mesh with what Rucka had planned? Maybe Grant Morrison is involved somehow. I do know that Didio is willing to let Morrison do whatever he wants in DC's playground, which is cause for worry really, because while he has some great concepts, he doesn't quite have a great follow-through. Amazing foreplay, confusing sex - and Morrison did use Batwoman in his Batman and Robin run a couple of months ago. Not very well, in my opinion, but he did. Or perhaps, as most people are pointing out, its because DC is terrified of having a solo book starring a woman who is decidedly and proudly a homosexual woman.

The latter idea, honestly, is sad in this day and age, when Marvel has a book headlined by a character who is of the homosexual persuasion (when it suits him), and celebrities all over the world are either coming out of the closet -   or supporting those who are openly and proudly gay. (Granted, then again, not everyone is so open minded these days.)

Part of what kills me the most about this is how well Rucka had realized Kate Kane's world, and how differently he had handled the subject matter of a woman who wore the Bat and who was, coincidentally, a lesbian. Despite coming from money, Kate Kane was not a Bruce Wayne knock-off, and despite being a tough woman in a bat costume, she was not a Huntress knock-off. Batwoman was very much her own person, and she was only just developing. The kicker is that we also just got Bette Kane back into action as Flamebird, and it looked like she was FINALLY going to get the respect that she so deserves. Bette is a character who has existed for years, and yet she's almost always just been played off as a joke of some sort, and here was a writer who would have developed Bette Kane into a hero, into a fully realized character. This is something that the fans of the character will likely never be able to see again, and that's just tragic.

At the end of the day, though, this is just bad news for DC. Greg Rucka has been one of the writers involved with Kate Kane all the way from her being in 52 back in 2006, down to now. That's a long time for a character to have spent with a character, and I'm sure that there were many stories that Rucka had to tell with Kate.

Stories which now may never see the light of day.

If I were DC, I'd be scrambling for a way to get him back - or perhaps try putting another competent writer on the project, like Simone, Gray & Palmiotti, or Andreyko, because right now, DC is at high risk for really messing up an amazing, original take on a character. Not that they didn’t do the same thing with Peter David and Supergirl back in 2003 (and really, look how well that turned out).

Or maybe DC’s decided that everything should be Silver Age again. After all, Barry Allen and Shiera Saunders are both back. Why not retcon Kate Kane into being a straight woman? Or just do away with Kate altogether and turn Barbara Gordon into Batwoman? While I’d rather DC did neither of those things, I can certainly see them doing it, what with their mentality of “everything silver age is new again”. And that just disappoints me, because I was hoping that they’d be more innovative than that.

Then again, it’s not like DC Comics was ever called “the House of Ideas.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Review: Black Widow: Deadly Origin #3

I’m going to start off by saying that I don’t exactly know a lot about Black Widow. Well, the Natasha Romanoff version. While I did read a lot of Avengers stuff growing up, it was far more for Wasp and Ms. Marvel than it was for Black Widow or Scarlet Witch. I’ve sampled a few of her series here and there, though I found myself drawn more to the Yelena Belova incarnation of Black Widow than I did Natasha. Maybe it’s because of all of baggage that Natasha comes that I’m as yet unfamiliar with, or maybe it’s because I just preferred Yelena’s character journey. Who knows?

In any case, I’m finding Black Widow: Deadly Origin to be an interesting story. I’m still not pulled into Natasha’s world, nor do I find myself caring all that much for her, but the position she’s in – the predicament that she faces – well, it’s certainly an interesting one, and one that I’m interested to see play out. The writing is definitely solid and the arts good as well – the switching back and forth between the past and now is incredibly well done, which is saying a lot for me because I’m generally not a fan of Tom Raney’s art. He’s done a nice, clean, crisp job here though.

I know that this mini has gotten me interested enough in checking out the Black Widow ongoing that starts this April.

Overall, I’d say that I give this issue a **1/2 out of five.

Review: (Blackest Night) Catwoman #83

This was probably one of the books that I was really looking forward to this week. I’ve been a huge Catwoman fan since Julie Newmar pranced about in Lurex back in the sixties (though I didn’t discover her until the 80’s, when I was a wee child.) That the Catwoman series was cancelled in favor for Gotham City Sirens is a sad, sad thing because Catwoman was a pretty good title in its own right – though it admittedly was becoming lacklustre – and GCS still needs to prove itself as a decent series, despite being written by Paul Dini, whose issues of Detective Comics were second only to Greg Rucka’s run on the title with Batwoman this past decade.

First off, this wasn’t so much an issue of Catwoman as it was an issue of Blackest Night Gotham City Sirens, but it was an interesting enough issue. I’m not sure why there were four artists assigned to the issue, but there were moments where it was obvious that the artists had changed. Still, it was a definite solid effort.

While it’s interesting to see Catwoman refer to Ivy and Harley as her sisters, no matter how ironically or sarcastically, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to Holly Robinson, who had close ties not only to Selina but to Harley as well, and who was as involved with the surprise character in this.

The plot was fast-paced and fast, a little predictable, but sometimes, in a one-shot like this, the plot has to be. It was well-written and solid, but this is Tony Bedard we’re talking about. He’s far, far from being a bad writer. I’m not such a fan of the twist ending, but I am intrigued enough to actually want to pick up an issue of GCS to see how it plays out.

A definite *** out of five.

Review: Batgirl #6

I’m going to preface this by saying that I’ve always been a fan of any young woman who’s worn the bat emblem across her chest – or belt, in the case of the original Bat-Girl, Betty Kane. There’s always been something about the frak you attitude about the Batgirl name because, more often than not, it’s been a girl who’s slipped on the costume to fight crime while giving the Gotham boy’s club a huge middle finger.

So far, Stephanie Brown’s been much of the same, finding mentorship in the classic Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. It’s a match made in heaven, and a partnership that, in many ways, feels so much more right than the former one between Cassandra Cain and Babs.

This was another well written issue, and I have to say, I’m completely loving Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett’s take on the Batgirl mythos here. Stephanie has a long way to go and a lot to learn, but so far, every issue, she’s showing growth in that area. She’s just had her second near-death experience, but she still manages to keep her wits about her, slip into costume, and get some nice detective work in.

If there’s one thing I wanted to complain about, it was the inclusion of Robin, but I understand why he’s important to the story, and frankly, under Miller’s able hand, he’s a good bit less annoying and a nice throwback to the Babs-Dick rivalry from way back when. I just hope that this continues on as a surrogate brother-sister relationship, nothing more. Having said that though…while I’ve always championed the Steph-Tim romance, I’d like to see her branch out a little and find someone new in her life. A lot of the times, Tim’s acted as a total douchetard towards Steph, and she doesn’t deserve it at all.

The bits between Barbara and Dick are nice and it makes one want to see them patch things up and eventually get on together. There really isn’t a more perfect couple in Gotham City, I don’t think.

As for the villains…I love Roxy Rocket, and it was a real pleasure seeing her appear in this issue. While I didn’t expect the twist at the end with the surprise villain…well, it was a welcome twist, and it’ll be interesting to see how Babs, Steph, and Damien deal with the odds stacked against them.

Not a great issue, but a really good, solid one.

A definite ***1/2 out of five.

The Brave and the Bold (And in this case; the Beautiful!)

I’m excited. Why? Well, partially because I now have the time (and the computer, thank you) to devote time to this blog which I have wanted to get back to ever since my computer died a grisly death back in November, but also because there’s been a lot of great things happening in the world of comics – specifically pertaining superheroines. Batwoman is going to be launched into her own book. Black Widow is getting her own on-going. The Birds of Prey have returned! (See, I knew I was sacrificing those lamb chops for something!) It’s really just great stuff all around, and I’m so glad it’s happening at a time where I’m all comics involved.

I think the big happy that I’m feeling right now is mostly thanks to the preview for DC Comics’ 2010 April stuff – most specifically Brave and the Bold #33 - written by JMS (who’s work in Spidey and Thor rocked, I think) and with art by Cliff Chiang (who, along with Aaron Lopresti, I want to see get more work at DC. Can you imagine Lopresti on Dini’s Zatanna book? Wow. If only that would happen.)

Anyway, before I get ahead of myself, herein is the solicit and cover image:

On sale APRIL 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Oh yes, it’s ladies’ night! Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Zatanna enjoy a nice, peaceful evening on the town that absolutely won’t be interrupted by any kind of superheroic hijinks whatsoever... and if you believe that, there’s a giant bronze globe in Metropolis we’d like to sell you!




Zatanna. Wonder Woman. Batgirl. They are three of my favorite DC heroines, and the fact that JMS is going back in time to tell a Silver Age-y tale of the three of them having an adventure? Classic. Many, many flavours of classic. These are three heroines who we haven’t gotten to see interact with each other all that much, though they were powerful, popular heroines in their own right back in the Silver Age – much as they are now. Wonder Woman is having her own renaissance of sorts under Gail Simone’s amazing hand in her own title, Zatanna will finally have an ongoing written by none other than Paul Dini; and Barbara Gordon’s getting some great treatment at the hands of Bryan Q. Miller and (soon!) Gail Simone in the pages of Batgirl and Birds of Prey respectively.

I know I can’t wait to see how this issue turns out, and April seems impossibly far away for me to wait. While this issue obviously doesn’t fall under the Brightest Day banner that DC will have going on around that time, I know my day’s been brightened considerably only by looking at that cover and solicit.