The Bat-Crew Is Back Together, Including Cassandra Cain

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases. Ray is the committed DC reader and Corrina is the somewhat lapsed DC fan.

This week sees the debut of Batman & Robin Eternal which also features the return of a fan favorite character, another chapter in the complicated and intense Omega Men story, the continued adventures of that crazy couple, Midnighter and Grayson, and indie legend Carla “Speed” McNeil delivers a fine Wonder Woman story in Sensation Comics.

Batman & Robin Eternal #1 — James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder, story, James Tynion IV, script, Tony Daniel, pencils, Sandu Florea, inks

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy It (But I have reservations)

Ray: The second act of the greatest DC comics weekly ever begins here, and it does not disappoint. With a new creative squad in place and once again headlined by Tynion and overseen by Snyder, all the pieces are in place for another runaway hit. While the issue does push some buttons that might upset people, it’s been very clear with Eternal that things are rarely what they seem, and in terms of character, the Bat-family is rarely done better.

Continue reading The Bat-Crew Is Back Together, Including Cassandra Cain

Rape by Deception in ‘Aquaman #44’ is Poorly Handled

Welcome to our recap of this week’s DC Comics releases. Ray is the seasoned DC fan, I’m the more cycnical and lapsed DC reader.

We usually focus first on our favorite issue of the week, and work our way down from there but we’re making an exception today. There was one comic with such a problematic plot element, a rape by deception, that we have to start there.

Sorry, Batman Annual #4, our book of the week, and Grayson Annual #2 with your team-up with Superman. We’ll get to you after.

Aquaman #44 – Cullen Bunn, writer, Alec Morgan, layouts, Art Thibert and Jesus Merino, finishes
Ray: 3/10
Corrina: There’s bad writing and then there’s problematic writing. This is both. Continue reading Rape by Deception in ‘Aquaman #44’ is Poorly Handled

‘We Are Robin’–An Inventive and Unique View of Gotham

Welcome to our weekly recap of Wednesday DC comics issues. Ray is the long-time DC reader and fan, while I’m the lapsed and more cynical reader. This week, we enjoyed all of the offerings that include a Batman connection, particularly We Are Robin and Gotham by Midnight, Batman ’66 and Scooby Doo Team-Up. The last two make great use of Batman history.

However, best to avoid the titles featuring villains and Flash is becoming a serious disappointment.

We Are Robin #4 – writer, Lee Bermejo, penciller, James Harvey, insks, James Harvey with Diana Egea.

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy It.

We are Robin #4 splash page
We are Robin #4 splash page, copyright DC Comics

Ray: I’ve been loving this title since the start, but my one complaint is that we were introduced to a big group of original characters right out of the gate without any real setup, making several of the teen heroes besides Duke blank slates. We even lost one, Troy, without knowing much about him.

Fortunately, after last issue’s shocker, this title slows down and gives us a done-in-one focused on the first of our new heroes, Riko Sheridan. This issue takes place in the immediate aftermath of Troy’s death, and deals with the fallout not just among their inner circle, but in the world of social media surrounding them. Guest artist James Harvey gives this issue a distinctly manga-esque vibe, managing to seamlessly blend Riko’s excitable inner fantasy life with the mundane reality around her. We learn a bit more about her personal and family life, as well as what led her to decide to join the Robins. Halfway through the issue, we shift to Riko going on a solo mission on the roofs of Gotham, and it soon becomes clear that she’s very much a rookie. Continue reading ‘We Are Robin’–An Inventive and Unique View of Gotham

Measuring FTL Travel For Fictional Worlds

SF, space opera, SF romance
cover copyright Christie Meierz

Welcome to our weekly guest blog for science fiction authors, Geek Speaks…Fiction, where writers geek out about what makes them happy.

Space opera fans, we’ve got a treat for you this week! Christie Meierz is the award winning, best selling author of the Tolari Cycle, novels of intrigue, suspense, and romance set in the future amongst the stars. Today, she joins us to tell us what made her geek out while writing her new release, Farryn’s War, the first book in a new series!

She will also be hosting a Facebook release party for Farryn’s War on Thursday, September 24. GeekMoms Corrina Lawson and Fran Wilde will be guests, and books and other prizes will be up for grabs. 

I’ve been an astronomy geek since the age of seven, when my mother bought a coffee table book on astronomy with a big color picture of the Orion nebula on the dust jacket. I picked it up for the pictures… and stayed for the math. I had just learned multiplication and division, and somehow never learned that girls aren’t supposed to be good at math. I spent a very happy afternoon working out the distances from the sun to each of the planets. In light-minutes. And light-hours.

Continue reading Measuring FTL Travel For Fictional Worlds

‘Prez’: Political Polemic or Entertaining Satire?

cover copyright DC Comics

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases where Ray Goldfield, long time DC reader and fan, and myself, more cynical and lapsed DC reader, give our thoughts. This week, we’re nearly 100 percent in agreement but where we disagree, we seriously disagree.

For instance, we both love Secret Six and Black Canary, but Ray believes that Prez is an absolute failure and I love it for its brilliant satire of the political world. He also thinks the current run of Wonder Woman is getting better.

If only.

Secret Six #6 – Gail Simone, writer, Tom Derenick, artist
Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy It.

Ray: Now that Secret Six has hit its groove, it is quickly resuming its place as one of DC’s best books. Continue reading ‘Prez’: Political Polemic or Entertaining Satire?

Horror Author Sam Sattin Creates an Imaginary Game For His Book

This week on Geek Speaks..Fiction!, horror author Samuel Sattin joins us to share what made him geek out while writing his new book, The Silent End, a chilling novel for mature teens and adults alike. His work has been described as being full of fun, terror, tragedy, and delight.
Welcome, Sam!

About the author: Samuel Sattin is a novelist and essayist. He is the author of League of Somebodies, described by Pop Matters as “One of the most important novels of 2013.” His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Salon, io9, Kotaku, San Francisco Magazine, Publishing Perspectives, LitReactor, The Weeklings, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and an MFA in Comics from CCA. He’s the recipient of NYS and SLS Fellowships and lives in Oakland, California.

It’s not overly difficult to describe what I geeked out on while writing The Silent End, mostly because the main character is a grade-A certified nerd, seventeen and on the edge of emotional collapse in many ways.

Continue reading Horror Author Sam Sattin Creates an Imaginary Game For His Book

Giveaway: ‘The Marvels’ by Caldecott Medal Winner Brian Selznick

Marvels, Brian Selznick
Marvels in hand! Photo by Jackie Reeve.

Today is the release day for Brian Selznick’s latest beautiful children’s book, The Marvels. This is huge news if you’re a fan of his work, since it’s been four years to the week since his last book, Wonderstruck, was published.

Selznick is one of my absolute favorite children’s authors. I read Hugo Cabret to my third grade classes every year, and I’ve recommended Wonderstruck I don’t know how many times. I’ve been so excited for The Marvels since its preview back in May, and now it’s finally here!

Here’s the synopsis:
From the Caldecott Medal–winning creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck comes a breathtaking new voyage.

In this magnificent reimagining of the form he originated, two stand-alone stories—the first in nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, the second in prose—together create a beguiling narrative puzzle.

The journey begins on a ship at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvelis banished from the stage.

Nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis runs away from school and seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale’s strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

A gripping adventure and an intriguing invitation to decipher how the two narratives connect, The Marvels is a loving tribute to the power of story from an artist at the vanguard of creative innovation.

Interior page from Marvels, book copyright Scholastic Inc.

You can learn more about The Marvels here. And, check here for a list of Brian Selznick’s tour dates to promote the book.

To celebrate, we are giving away a prize package to one lucky GeekMom reader. It includes:

· A copy of The Marvels;
· A custom The Marvels jigsaw puzzle;
· and a $50 Visa gift card.

There are four ways to enter, and if you follow us on Instagram you’ll get a bonus entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will close this Saturday, September 19th at 11:59pm ET. A random winner will be selected and announced following the end of the giveaway.

Happy book birthday to The Marvels!
Prizes are provided by Scholastic.

‘Batman #44’–A Definitive Batman story

cover via DC Comics
cover via DC Comics

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases. Ray is the long-time DC reader, a prototypical DC fan, while I’m the lapsed and more cynical type.  But when we agree something is good, that means it’s darn good.

Which brings us to Batman #44, which Ray and I recognize as something special. There’s also great fun to be had in the latest issue of Starfire, and a road trip with Harley Quinn this week. Overall, an excellent batch of stories, and Ray is particularly high on the Green Lantern/Star Trek crossover that’s being published by IDW. (See end of post.)

If only this week was the last issue of Section Eight, an experiment that has failed spectacularly.

Batman #44 – Story by Scott Snyder, written by Scott Snyder and Brian Azzarello, art by Jock. 

Ray: 10/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy This Masterpiece. 

Ray: Fill-in issues and done-in-ones in the middle of an arc are often throwaways, but that’s the furthest thing from the case here with this breather issue. Obviously, Snyder and Jock have worked together before, so it’s not a surprise that they’d do something special here, but I was really surprised how this story worked so well as both a small-scale, affecting story about Batman’s past and a piece of the puzzle in the ongoing superheavy story.

One of the biggest complaints about Batman from certain corners is that he’s “a rich guy beating up the poor and mentally ill,” but that’s always been a stereotype that doesn’t really work given all the work Bruce does for Gotham and its citizens. In many ways, this story shows how he got there.

It opens right after Zero Year, with two Batmen, present and future – Bruce and Jim – meeting to discuss a mysterious case of a teenage boy dead in a field. He has bullet holes in him, but Batman’s investigation reveals he actually died from a massive fall from the middle of nowhere. With the issue narrated seemingly by Gotham itself, Batman’s investigations lead him to a dark, twisty, and emotionally powerful tale that involves the boy’s run-ins with local gangs, rising Supervillains like Penguin, and a trigger-happy cop whose duty in the Corner (Gotham’s worst area) has left him brittle and paranoid. The issue takes on a lot of timely topics, like police brutality and gentrification, but it avoids easy answers and leaves a lot of shades of grey in every reveal.

In the end, it’s the story of a boy with very few choices who made a deal with the devil that led him to that field, and the reveal of just how he fell from a thousand feet up from the middle of nowhere is incredibly clever. Mr. Bloom factors into this issue, but I was a bit surprised that he was just a bit player (albeit a key one) and we know just as little about him as we did before. Jock’s version of him is fabulously creepy, though.

This is an incredibly strong issue, setting the stage for the man Bruce Wayne became as Batman and the man he is now, as well as a near-perfect stand-alone story of Gotham. If only all fill-ins and break issues could be this strong.

Corrina: Fill in? No, this is a masterpiece, a story so strong that if someone asks me why I love Batman comics, I could hand them this issue to explain why. The title is a ‘A Simple Case,’ and so it seems at first, the story of a boy trying to be a man caught in the middle of a gang war.

But, as Ray said, it’s about all of Gotham, it’s about why Batman does what he does, and why it sometimes works and why the job of cleaning up the city for good citizens is never easy. This reminded me of the classic Denny O’Neil/Dick Giordano story,  “There is No Hope in Crime Alley.”

It’s time for another addition to The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told.

Gotham Academy #10 -Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher, writers, Karl Kerschl with Msassyk, art
Continue reading ‘Batman #44’–A Definitive Batman story

‘Wonder Woman ’77’ Exclusive Preview

We don’t have a new Wonder Woman movie as yet but we still have Lynda Carter and the original Wonder Woman television show. That show lives on in comics, in DC’s Wonder Woman ’77.

The latest in this series is a digital-first chapter coming out tomorrow and we have the exclusive preview. Wonder Woman ‘77, chapter #8, is the second part of a three part storyline featuring the debut of Wonder Woman’s notorious arch nemesis, The Cheetah.

From DC’s description: At the grand opening of Wonder Woman’s museum exhibit, Cheetah crashes the event with a dart gun and all chaos ensues! Can Wonder Woman save the day from this catastrophe?



WW77_09_300-004_HD WW77_09_300-005_HD WW77_09_300-006_HD

All images copyright DC Comics.

The chapter will become available for download Wednesday, September 9, via the DC Comics App,, iBooks,, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.

Bradley Beaulieu Geeks Out on Mother/Daughter Connections

Join GeekMom in welcoming epic fantasy author Bradley P. Beaulieu to Geek Speaks…Fiction!

Bradley Beaulieu fell in love with fantasy from the moment he began reading The Hobbit in third grade. While Bradley earned a degree in computer science and engineering and worked in the information technology field for years, he could never quite shake his desire to explore other worlds. He began writing his first fantasy novel in college. It was a book he later trunked, but it was a start, a thing that proved how much he enjoyed the creation of stories. It made him want to write more. 

He went on to write The Lays of Anuskaya series as well as The Song of Shattered Sands series. He has published work in the Realms of Fantasy Magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Writers of the Future 20, and several anthologies. He has won the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award and earned a Gemmell Morningstar Award nomination. Learn more about Bradley by visiting his website,

Brad’s highly praised novel, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, was released last week from DAW/Penguin Random House. Read on to find out what made him geek out while writing it!

When I start working on new books, it’s the world that gets fleshed out first. I write big-canvas fantasies, so it’s important to me to know the lay of the land, the kingdoms in play, their cultural histories, the political landscape, the magic, and so on. This is really important to me because I want to create characters that can believably inhabit this world. The world is the soil in which they grow, after all.

That isn’t to say that my characters aren’t individuals. They are. Of course they are. But this is the part that’s so interesting to me: Once you know the norms in this new world you’re creating—the social mores, the customs, traditions, religions, and so on—you can start to play with them and see where your characters diverge from those norms. They may hew closely to them, which may give clues as to how you can best challenge the character. Or they may diverge widely, bringing perhaps a more immediate and consistent sort of conflict as the characters struggle or fight against the norms.

The main character in Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is a young woman named Çeda (pronounced CHAY-da, like mesa). She’s a pit fighter, and a woman who runs packages in the shadows beneath the nose of the twelve kings of Sharakhai. The kings, who have ruled the city with iron fists for over four hundred years, kill Çeda’s mother viciously when Çeda is eight. In some ways it comes as no surprise. Her mother, Ahya, had been tempting fate for a long while, running out on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir, when all are forbidden from roaming the streets and the ghul-like asirim come to the city to take tribute.

Çeda is shaped by many things, but foremost among them was her upbringing with her mother and the questions left in the wake of her mother’s death when she is hung by the cruel kings. Çeda begins to find the answers to those questions only years later when she too goes out on Beht Zha’ir to save her best friend, Emre.

One of the asirim finds her and whispers long-forgotten words in her ear, words Çeda has read before in a book left to her by her mother. It is through that one strange event that Çeda begins to unlock the secrets behind her mother’s purpose on the night she was killed. Like a blooming rose, the answers to those riddles complicate, leading to more riddles in turn. They point her toward the very night, four hundred years before, when the kings made their dark bargain with the gods of the desert to secure their power.

I often find that I don’t really know what a character is like until after I’ve created the first draft. Why? Because while I know something about them, I don’t know enough details to know who they really are. By the time the first draft is done, though, I know so much more. The characters are no longer plans in a character sketch. They have stories and accomplishments. They have hopes and fears. They have become real.

The connection between Çeda and her mother, Ahya, was one I expected to explore, but not as much as I actually did in the writing of Twelve Kings. So much flowed from that mother-daughter relationship: Çeda’s often-rocky adoption on the part of Dardzada, an apothecary who loved Ahya but now finds only pain when he sees Çeda; her befriending of Emre, a boy who becomes not only a close friend, but her best friend, perhaps her soulmate (a thing Çeda refuses to acknowledge); her ties to a desert witch that eventually changes her life; her connection to the kings.

All of it really opened Çeda up for me.

I found myself coming back to Ahya’s legacy often. It advised me, a compass by which I could navigate this complex tale. More than anything, though, it made me care for Çeda deeply. It’s a form of geeking out, I think, coming to love your characters, or hate them, or whatever we want the reader to feel about them, because it’s only when we truly feel for them that we can write truths about them on the page.

So there it is. I geeked out about Çeda. And I hope you will too.

About Twelve Kings in Sharakhai:
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings — cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite ompany of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.

Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

You can find Bradley P. Beaulieu at and on Twitter as @bbeaulieu.

DC Comics This Week: You’re Gonna Love This Wonder Woman

cover copyright DC Comics.
cover copyright DC Comics.

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. Ray is the long-time DC reader and I’m the more skeptical, lapsed DC reader. As the last week of the month, it’s a relatively light week but the shining stars for me and Ray are twofold.

One, Detective Comics #44, which manages to be darkly funny and handles the cast of Gotham’s police officers better than any story since the late, great Gotham Central. This is what the Gotham show could be, if it focused on the right elements, instead of attempting to be an over-the-top villain fest.

Two, DC Comics Bombshells, which features a Wonder Woman we can get behind. Heck, the story in this issue would make a great start to a Wonder Woman movie.

But we part ways on Omega Men, a slow boiling SF story about terrorism, rebellion, and how far those oppressed are willing to go.

Detective Comics #44, Brian Buccellato, writers and colors, Fernando Blanco, art

Ray: Book of the Week. 9.5/10

Corrina: Buy It. 

Ray: Buccellato brings his  run to a close this month, making way for Pete Tomasi next month, and he closes it out in style.

This story could have easily gotten ridiculous, pitting Jim Gordon against a giant Joker Robot made from the power core of his own suit and piloted by the Joker’s Daughter, but the creative team has a deft touch that makes it work really well. The story doesn’t lose sight of the fact that Jim is very out of his element here, and his commentary on the absurdity of the situation is very welcome, as his practical, military-minded approach to taking out the threat. Continue reading DC Comics This Week: You’re Gonna Love This Wonder Woman

DC Reviews for 8/26: So That Was Lois’ Big Motivation?

Batgirl #43, copyright DC Comics
Batgirl #43, copyright DC Comics

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. Ray is the long-time DC reader and I’m the more skeptical, lapsed DC reader. This week, we find out why Lois Lane outed Clark Kent as Superman in Superman #43. It’s not as bad as I expected but it doesn’t quite work, either, Ray’s in love with the old-school Batgirl vibe present in Batgirl #43, and We Are Robin has become a must read.

Of course, there are a few clinkers. I’m totally bored with Sinestro and Deathstroke. And Teen Titans? Maybe DC should toss the Batgirl creative team at it. Check out the end for how several comic adaptations of the DC Universe.

Batgirl #43, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, writers, Babs Tarr, artist, Juan Castro, inks (pages 17-19).

Ray: 9.5/10 Book of the Week

Corrina: Buy It.

Ray: I’ve said before that I think this book probably would have been served better if it had been the product of the hard reboot coming out of Flashpoint, as opposed to a soft reboot after Gail Simone’s run. The difference between the two Batgirls is so drastic that I’m not surprised a lot of people can’t fully embrace it.

That’s a shame, because it’s fantastic, and even my annoyance over Oracle being erased can’t ruin that for me. This title is easily the closest DC has ever gotten to capturing the same zeitgeist that lifted Ms. Marvel, Runaways, and Ultimate Spider-man into fan favorites. It’s got a perfect balance of superhero action, personal drama, and the two intersecting in interesting ways. While Barbara is dealing with both her father’s role as the new Batman and the return of her best friend Alysia – who’s getting married to her longtime girlfriend Jo – a new crisis emerges as Barbara’s friend Luke Fox’s tech company comes under attack by an escaped tiger that kills an engineer. Continue reading DC Reviews for 8/26: So That Was Lois’ Big Motivation?

‘Ant-Man’: I’ve Had Enough of the Man Pain

Marvel's Ant-Man Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2015
Marvel’s Ant-Man—I’ve seen/read/watched his story far too often. Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/© Marvel 2015.

One of the best things about growing older is that you become pickier about the ways you spend your time. Eh, why spend hours hoping that a show/book/movie will get better? Enough. Time is better spent elsewhere.

The other best thing? The amount of f*** s one has to give about certain things decreases.

That brings me to Ant-Man, which I finally saw this weekend.

Ant-Man is the story of four insecure and broody men who behave like adolescent children. Two of them learn to grow up by the end of the movie, the third minor supporting character learns to be mature about his stepdaughter’s father, and one is killed.

It’s a decent enough movie. It lacks the wonder and surprises of Guardians of the Galaxy, the thematic heft of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it’s predictable enough that I turned to my son as soon as that particular theory was introduced and said, “We’re going to see that thing at the climax.” But it’s not awful by any means.

However, I’ve experienced this story a thousand times. It’s usually about a straight white guy who’s acted immaturely because reasons, makes a mess, and finally does enough to redeem himself—thus allowing the audience to cheer for him at the end.

Ant-Man has become my tipping point.


I’ve been on Earth now nearly 50 years and, right this moment, I’ve had enough of your man-pain stories, Hollywood, and you too, Marvel.

I’ve had enough of lovable losers doing stupid things but getting second and third chances because, wow, they’re so lovable and they really mean well.

Not to mention, they get the girl. Because that’s required right? Getting the girl as a reward?

You’re cute, Paul Rudd, and you did well with the part, but I have no f***s left to give about poor Scott Lang.

I’ve had enough of remote fathers who hit people when they’re pissed off because they can’t admit that, dammit, they’re grieving because someone they loved died.

As Rocket said in Guardians, “We’ve all got dead people!” Grow up, Hank Pym. You screwed up your kid, behaved like a child when she needed an adult, and messed up your company because you wallowed in your pain.

Am I supposed to be happy because you finally admit you were wrong after, oh, 20 years or so? I have no f***s to give about you.

I’ve had enough of whiny man-children who get pissed off because people didn’t recognize their genius or trust them. The villain in Guardians was an angry force of nature. A little sketchy, but it worked. The villain in Ant-Man is a little whiny snot who shouldn’t have been trusted with anything, never mind a company. He annoyed me so much, he brought the entire movie down. Seriously, that’s the motivation to murder?

My mentor didn’t trust or praise me enough. Oh, grow the f*** up.

As for the stepfather? Let’s have a vendetta against the man who’s the beloved father of a future stepdaughter that I’m supposed to care about. I have no more f***s to give about this penis-measuring contest.

Know what I could care about? Know what stories I haven’t seen often enough?

Marvel's Ant-Man Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2015
I haven’t had nearly enough stories about people like Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/© Marvel 2015.

I haven’t had enough stories about mothers forced to be single parents because their supposed partner in child-rearing did a dumb-ass adolescent thing, and rather than being viewed as the bad guy for insisting this stupid adolescent man prove he’s grown up.

I haven’t had enough stories of *mothers* who run into houses to save their daughter instead of letting the studly man do it because, well, see above on the penis-measuring contest.

I haven’t had enough of daughters whose fathers shut them out for no reason and decided to follow in their mother’s footsteps by themselves, without the help of said distant father and immature male.

I haven’t had enough stories of people of color who are already disadvantaged and abused by our society, who come up with a way to survive in a world stacked against them.

I haven’t had enough stories where these people are the heroes instead of comic relief or the way to prove that our white hero is going to be good enough to save the day.

Marvel's Ant-Man Luis (Michael Peña) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014
Can we have a world where Luis (Michael Peña) is the hero and not the comic relief? Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/© Marvel 2014.

Marvel movies, you’ve had a good run.

I’m looking forward to Captain America: Civil War, about grown-ups dealing with problems like being good people brainwashed to do horrible things, and about a friend who helps because it’s the right thing to do, a friend who is formidable in his own right and not there as a rumble to prove another hero is cool.

But after that, you’re on notice.

I want something beyond more man-anguish and man-pain because the guys made bad decisions because they didn’t grow up fast enough but deserve second chances anyway because, hey, the potential for being a hero is already there.

Especially if they’re straight white men.

Give me a story I haven’t seen before.

Give me a story where I can give a f***.

Romance Writers: A Safe Space For Women

As I sat last month in a darkened ballroom with approximately 2,000 other writers, the vast majority of them women, watching the Romance Writers of America present their two highest awards, the Rita and the Golden Heart, I marveled at the road that had brought me to that ballroom. Romance writing had been the last thing on my mind when I started a writing career. I’m a self-professed geek. I grew up as a tomboy. I read science fiction and fantasy books and comics, not romance.

So what was I doing with romance writers?

We on the internet often talk of female space spaces, organizations dedicated to helping women, and places where women can shine and be not only supported but celebrated by other women.

That’s exactly what RWA, which boasts approximately 10,000 members, is about. It’s a uniquely supportive organization among other professional writing organizations because RWA allows, no, encourages, the participation of unpublished writers. And with RWA, I’d found my tribe. I wasn’t alone. The acceptance speeches by the award winners were truly words of acceptance from women of high accomplishment even before they became writers.

For example:
A graduate of West Point, former Army officer Caro Carson won a Rita for Contemporary Romance: Short for her novella, A Texas Rescue Christmas. (See her acceptance speech at 11:00 in the video.)

Anna Richland, also a military veteran, won a Rita for a military story, His Road Home, the story of a severely wounded Special Forces medic, and dedicated the book to a mother she’d met at a veteran’s event, a mother whose son didn’t come home. Her speech had everyone in the audience in sympathy for the mother who lost her Marine. I only hope that somehow, that mother knows her son’s story is not forgotten. (That’s 1:19:10 in the video and you will need tissues.)

Tessa Dare, the winner for a historical romance that included a cast of early LARPers, told the crowd that she’d begun to doubt herself but had been buoyed by the belief of others in her writing. And, she said, if there was anyone sitting in the audience who doubted themselves and had no one to believe in them, to email her and she would be the one to believe in them. (Go to 32:15 for her full acceptance speech.)

Several of the winners of the Golden Heart Awards called out to their fellow nominees. This is unique for two reasons. First, the Golden Heart is given out for unpublished manuscripts. These are beginners in their careers. Yet the Golden Heart winners are feted as much as the Rita winners. Second, in a world that often seems so competitive, the Golden Heart nominees had banded together so they could have a collective experience, and dubbed themselves the Dragonflies. The Dragonflies received numerous shout-outs in acceptance speeches.

This banding together of nominees isn’t unique. Past groups include the Wet Noodle Posse and the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. Those groups are still growing strong, still supporting each other.

Romance is a $1.08 billion dollar industry, larger than mystery or science fiction/fantasy. In today’s economy, romance is the surest bet for publishers. And yet the attitude of those who write romance isn’t one of competition, at least not collectively. Instead, it’s “a rising tide floats all boats” and “pay it forward,” as writers who were helped by those ahead of them turn around and help the new writers in turn.

Best author Suzanne Brockmann and Rita Nominee Farrah Rochon talk diversity in romance fiction.
Best author Suzanne Brockmann and Rita Nominee Farrah Rochon talk diversity in romance fiction. photo by Corrina Lawson

It’s not perfect.

The organization and the romance publication industry has much work to do to reflect our current society. Harlequin, which has separate lines for suspense, sweet stories, contemporaries, and historical romance subgenres, unfortunately puts all stories with black leads into one line, Kimani. This is appalling segregation and needs to end now.

RWA itself would do well to reach out to authors of color to bring more into the fold. For more, read this story of a live tweet session on a diversity panel at RWA.

There is also the revolution in digital publishing. RWA as an organization has had to sometimes be pulled, reluctantly, into this brave new world. As ebook sales exploded, largely pioneered by romance writers and readers, RWA lagged behind in recognition of authors who were leading this charge. But now the national conference is filled with successful self-published (indie) authors teaching others how to do what they do.

RWA also has had a long debate about the role of non-romance writing members. Those writers who don’t write romance are welcome to join RWA but due to new rules, they cannot vote in elections or serve on individual chapter boards. As a member, I feel this new rule lacks foresight, in that romance writers can often benefit from a more expansive point of view. Despite this, whenever anyone asks for advice about how to learn to write, I tell them “join RWA.” Writing information is available in person at many vibrant local chapters and busy online chapters. Many of those local chapters allow visitors to attend one or two meetings for free.

I’m moving back to my geeky roots in SF/F and working on an urban fantasy. But I will remain a member of RWA. I still have a great deal to learn about craft and the publishing industry, and I still need to pay it forward, to pay back the support that was given to me.

Because, like everyone else in that audience in late July, listening to the acceptance speeches, I belonged. We need more of these thriving, supporting female communities.

RWA offers a model of how to do it right.

Geek Speaks…Fiction! With Deborah Bailey

Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance novels include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her science fiction romance books include Hathor Legacy: Outcast, Hathor Legacy: Burn, and a short story collection, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. The upcoming novel in the Hathor Legacy series, Hathor Legacy: Revelations, will be published in the winter of 2015.

In the paranormal realm, her two books about a lion shapeshifter who runs a coffee bar, Family Pride: Love and Challenges and the upcoming Family Pride: Blood Fever, were inspired by her love for the TV show, Bewitched. In her other life, she’s a blogger and freelance writer specializing in small business topics, and her articles have been published in Working World Magazine,, and She blogs at and

Photo via Deb Bailey
Photo via Deborah Bailey

Thanks for having me!

I’ve been trying to remember when I haven’t been geeked out about something. When I was a little girl geek, I was a faithful Star Trek viewer, which is where my Mr. Spock fan girling started. Even as a child, I totally understood his character and loved all that Vulcan coolness. In fact, I still do!

During that time, I also bought tons of DC Comics. So many that I still have a huge box full of them. I was into Superman, Batman, and the Justice League of course.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]
Cover copyright Deborah Bailey
Back in the day it was the norm to have male superheroes, but there were women doing their thing as well. Though at times the stereotypes were overwhelming. For instance, Lois Lane had her own comic, though she spent a lot time competing with Lana Lang for Superman’s affections. Thankfully Lois’ character was ultimately allowed to have a character arc—and desires beyond becoming Mrs. Superman.

I think that change was reflecting the changes in the culture, which is what also brought a change in Wonder Woman’s story. She went from Amazon princess to human when she renounced her status, and for a while she was forced to sort her life out as a normal woman, Diana Prince.

Around that time, a rebooted female superhero was introduced as the second story in a Lois Lane comic. She was known as the Thorn. During the day she was a very meek woman, the Rose, whose police officer father had been killed in the line of duty, and at night she was an elusive crime fighter called The Thorn.

What struck me about her character was the duality. Which is probably the same thing that excited me when Wonder Woman had her Diana Prince interlude. The idea of a superhero who isn’t always a hero (or aware of being one) opened up a lot of story ideas for me. And you could say the Spock character has the same challenges. Is he human or Vulcan? What part of him does he claim? Can he really be both?

Electric Dream - High Resoluion
Cover copyright Deborah Bailey

Those ideas inspired me to create my character Nadira for the Hathor Legacy series. She has PSI powers that allow her to be a superhero of sorts on the planet, Hathor. Yet, she doesn’t always have a comfort level around the balancing act. Her mother had PSI abilities and her father was human, so she’s also in two worlds (though she’s only claimed one world so far).

What happens when you’re forced to choose? Is it even possible to do so and stay a healthy, sane person?

That’s what geeking out means to me. Asking these questions and exploring the answers while you create countless characters and worlds. There are no pat answers and no rules that must be followed.

It’s limitless and there’s always something new to look at and think about.

Back when I was running to the newsstand buying up my DC Comics stash, I never knew I’d be inspired to write my own stories. But the fun part is that the geeking never has to stop.

It’s not something I ever have to grow out of, and I never will.

GeekMom Call For New Contributors!

cropped-cropped-geek-mom-transparent.pngNote: Thank you all so much for the submissions. We have looked them over and expect to be sending out invites by Friday, October 9th.

Geeky parents of the Internet, GeekMom wants you!

GeekMom has been an active community blog for nearly 5 years now, and we have a dedicated group of people who participate and enjoy sharing their experiences as geeks and as parents. We want to grow and bring some new energy into the family; and that means finding new geeky parents to join our ranks. Continue reading GeekMom Call For New Contributors!

DC Comics This Week: ‘Secret Six’ Is A Slam Dunk

Welcome to our capsule reviews of this week’s DC comics releases. Ray Goldfield is the long-time DC reader and I’m more the cynic. I might have faith in nothing but quality. I also look at these issues with an eye for a new reader. If it’s impenetrable to all but the most diehard of DC fans, I won’t recommend it.

This week, we have our biggest disagreements yet but we’re both happy to recommend Secret Six #5, which zips along dropping all kinds of revelations on the reader while it rights a serious comic book wrong.

The rest? Ray loves his Robin, Son of Batman. I’m already a tired of the pre-adolescent, arrogant assassin. But I highly recommend Martian Manhunter, which is an imaginative take on that a classic SF story, an alien invasion.

On the bad side, we’re waiting for the day we can announce the cancellation of Doomed and the ill-conceived Superman/Wonder Woman title.

Warning: total spoilers abound.

Continue reading DC Comics This Week: ‘Secret Six’ Is A Slam Dunk

DC Comics Round-Up for 8/12 Releases!

This may be taking flower power a bit too far. From the cover of Batman #43, copyright DC Comics
This may be taking flower power a bit too far. From the cover of Batman #43, copyright DC Comics

Each week, I and long-time DC reader Ray Goldfied look at the releases from DC Comics. He’s more amenable to giving new storylines a chance and I have a quick hook. But when we agree, that means a creative team is doing something exceptional, and that’s the case this week with Batman #43, our Book of the Week, which earned a rare 10 from Ray and my enthusiastic “Buy It!.” Another highlight this week? DC Comics Bombshells #1, a World War II take on some of our favorite DC heroines.

Batman #43Book of the Week. Scott Snyder, writer, Greg Capullo, pencils, Danny Miki, inks 

Ray: 10/10

Corrina: Buy It. Now. 

Ray: It’s rare I give praise like this, but this is genuinely one of the most amazing comic book runs we’ve seen in a long time. It’s not over yet, but I could easily see it falling in the modern elites with Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run and Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four.

And in taking on this challenging new status quo, Scott Snyder has risen to the challenge and given us a new run that’s both thrilling and emotionally complex. We open with Bruce Wayne meeting with Jim Gordon, who tries to get his help with Batman’s old technology, to allow him to go off the grid and escape Powers Corp’s oversight. However, Bruce makes clear that he’s left that part of his life behind and leaves with Julie Madison. We get the truth behind Bruce’s return from Alfred, who has been spying on Bruce with Clark Kent. In an incredibly powerful segment, Alfred reveals the full chain of events. Bruce died in those caves with the Joker, and his body was found days later. But when Alfred showed up to collect his body, it had healed courtesy of the Dionesium.

However, this had the effect of rebooting and rewriting his brain, leaving him without his memories and all the scars and pain he carried around with him. Alfred filled him in as best as he could about who he was and what he had done for Gotham, but Bruce decided he couldn’t go back and wanted to help Gotham in a different way now. Alfred believes that this Bruce is essentially what Bruce could have been if things had gone differently, and he has no interest in disrupting that.

I’ve got to give Snyder massive points here for coming up with a completely new hook for a replacement hero story, much like Jason Aaron did in Thor last year. He also manages to call back to the Batman cloning device from the Detective Comics anniversary issue, as one of Bruce’s unfinished projects.

Jim Gordon’s story, meanwhile, takes him to the headquarters of Mr. Bloom, where a tense battle involving some enhanced minions and a tankful of mutated horned sharks ensues. Gordon winds up trapped deep underground in a furnace in the cliffhanger, and Duke Thomas seems to be in some trouble as well, as his distrust of Bruce leads him to steal the seed of Mr. Bloom that Gordon gave Bruce. The final scene has a face-off between Penguin and Mr. Bloom, where Penguin has one of his goons kill the upstart crime-lord – only for Mr. Bloom to reveal his true form and impale Penguin with his fingers. This seemingly reveals Mr. Bloom’s true identity as Dr. Death from Zero Year, but there may be a swerve here. Either way, every scene of this comic is packed with excitement and great writing, and you likely won’t find a better DC comic this month.

Corrina: This is the third time Bruce Wayne has been replaced as Batman in his regular monthly comics. Each time, it was clear that the status quo would be restored soon. Azrael was too much of a newcomer too and too violent to last. Dick Grayson was destined to go back to being Nightwing, both times that he replaced Bruce under the Cape and Cowl.

I suspected it would be the same this time, that Bruce would heal and Gordon would put aside the Robot Batman suit. Or I did until this issue, when I read Alfred’s tale of Bruce’s literal rebirth. There’s something so attractive about the idea of a Bruce Wayne without psychic wounds, a Bruce who can embrace another path and not be haunted by the gunshots that ended his childhood and forever changed his life. He’s still a hero but in an entirely different way. I want to see who this man becomes, just as I’m curious about how Gordon reshapes the Batman mythos to be his own version of the protector of Gotham. I’m pleased to see he doesn’t trust the tech provided by Powers Corp., and equally certain he’ll escape the deathtrap.

Oh, and Greg Capullo deserves all kinds of credit for the emotions, particularly  with Gordon’s face, and Alfred during his story, and the moody panels with the snow, and then a shout-out to the colorist, as the colors change to bright and shiny as Alfred brings the “new” Bruce home.

This is an entirely original take on the Batman mythos and I didn’t believe that was possible. I also believe it’s superior to the runs Ray mentioned, if only because this tale is so…human.

Continue reading DC Comics Round-Up for 8/12 Releases!

Best Buy: Where All Back-To-School Tech Is In One Place

Tracking Pixel

Best Buy's College Student Program.
Best Buy’s College Student Program.

This is a Sponsored Post on behalf of Best Buy, all opinions are my own.

In our house, back-to-school clothes and supply shopping is an annual event. But what we discovered this year is that we need to add another stop for back-to-school.

We needed a place to find all kinds of tech. Especially one that has discounts for college students.

Best Buy is the only place we’ve found that has a large selection of items from tablets to computers to phones to accessories like cases, portable memory, mice, keyboards, portable batteries and basically any kind of tech they need for school. (My son made a pitch for gaming headphones to count as a back-to-school item. I eventually caved, especially given study session on Skype.)

An, as any mom with multiple kids does, I made a list of items we could get within a budget. I had a $500 Best Buy gift card, so I researched everything that could be bought for that amount.

Note: You’ll have your own chance to do this by entering our Best Buy $500 Gift Card giveaway. See the raffelcopter widget below! 

What did I find?

A great selection of choices.

Best Buy
Tablet plus keyboard combination at my local Best Buy. photo: Corrina Lawson

There was the touch-screen laptop for $449.99. Chromebooks for under $250. Tablets that ranged from $89 to $499. Monitors starting at $89.99, gaming headphones from $40 to $129.99. Separate sections for Windows Surface tablets and iPads, so I could compare them. Printers with price ranges from $79.99 and above.

I personally prefer Apple laptops and desktops over any other kind but there’s no denying that they are, one, pricey, and two, less customizable that Windows-based PCs and laptops, and many college students prefer the latter for that reason, especially if they are gamers or, as is becoming increasingly likely now, taking courses in game development.

Researching all these Windows laptops online can be exhausting. With Best Buy, they were all in one place, and many of them came with Microsoft Office, an additional savings.

Not to mention that the HP laptops came with a package deal with an HP printer for only an additional $19.99. Yes, I know most colleges have public printers. And I also know how frustrating trying to use them can be. We had to buy a printer for my older student and I expect my son will need one small enough for his dorm room too, like the one in the photograph below.

2015-08-09 11.06.58

And, then, there were the phones. Every kind of smartphone that seemed to be in existence, with all kinds of cases. I spotted a rack of clearance cases for those on a tight budget, and the phones ranged in price from the newest smartphones with contract to no-contract smartphones for less than $50. The latter is a good option for college students, especially as my oldest had a tendency to lose her phone or break it. A broken no-contract phone means that you simply have to spend another $50, not deal with replacing a lost or broken contract phone. (We have insurance. It still costs $150 for us to replace our phones.)

Bonus, as a thrifty shopper, I love bargains and I love the section of Best Buy that deals with second-hand and refurbished merchandise.

2015-08-09 11.09.28You can’t quiet read all the prices but the newer out-of-case, refurbished laptops were as low as $250 in this section. (There was even a Macbook Air for $929, a $300 savings over the brand-new models.)

And, of course, there are the little bargains on-site. I tossed one of this portable batteries for $5 in the stuff or my daughter.

The box of portable chargers.  photo by Corrina Lawson
The box of portable chargers. photo by Corrina Lawson

Best Buy’s has an additional advantage over online retailers in having knowledge people on site to answer questions. I was approached at least 3 times to see if I needed assistance in my visit to my local Best Buy and they always pointed me in the right direction.

The store even has an official program recognizing this need: #BESTCOLLEGE. The campaign centers around providing students with tips and advice on how to have the best college experience ever. Students can always find expert advice and great deals in Best Buy stores and on, but through the new campaign, they can now see tips and advice from other students and some of their favorite internet starts through the #BESTCOLLEGE hashtag and program website.

And, hey, look, even backpacks!
And, hey, look, even backpacks!

In addition to sharing tips and tech through the #BESTCOLLEGE hashtag, Best Buy also launched the #BESTCOLLEGE Challenge Contest. Now through August 15, students can enter to win one of six Grand Prize packages featuring approximately $2,500 worth of the latest and greatest back-to-school products from Best Buy.

Entering to win one of the teched-out rooms is simple. Students just need to visit and submit their own tip on how to have a great college experience, or share what tech they can’t live without on campus along with a photo.

But right now, you can enter to win a $500 Best Buy giftcard to go on your own shopping spree.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Best Buy.

Geek Speaks… Fiction! With Veronica Scott


She’s the best-selling science fiction and paranormal romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today “Happily Ever After” blog. However, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history, and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Three-time winner of the Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

Thanks for inviting me to be your guest!

I love doing research and for my science fiction novels, I’m often doing a deep dive into odd things that I’m going to adapt for my future galactic civilization known as the Sectors.

SF Romance
Cover copyright Veronica Scott.

The first topic I geeked out about for a specific book was the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, because my first published SF novel was Wreck of the Nebula Dream, loosely inspired by the Titanic’s sinking. (I’ve always been fascinated by Titanic though.)

For that book, I researched anything and everything to do with the real-life tragedy, including the ship’s design, its passengers and crew, premonitions and superstitions connected to the event, the cargo… I enjoyed the creative exercise of applying that wealth of detail to a luxury cruiser roaming the star lanes. For my recent best-seller, Star Cruise: Marooned, I researched the world of the charter yacht, which is somewhat different in nature than a liner.

The second thing I’ve geeked out about for my SF world is Special Forces military operators.

My heroes are pretty much always in that line of work and my goal is to create men who could walk into any bar on Earth today where SEALs and Rangers gather, and be accepted as members of the brotherhood.

My late husband was a Marine, so I’m very supportive of the military in general, have had SEAL and Ranger authors as guests on my blog in the past… but as actual research, I’ve read numerous real-life accounts, asked a lot of questions, subscribe to a (public) Special Forces-oriented website to stay current, have been to at least one conference I’m not allowed to discuss….

Veronica Scott square photo
Veronica Scott, image via Veronica Scott.

I guess by now you can tell my definition of “geek out” isn’t about the hardware or the science, so much as it is about the world-building and the people.

I worked at JPL [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory] for many years and totally geeked out over everything built and managed there, from Mars rovers to space telescopes, so it’s not that I’m not into those things! We’ll count that as the third thing for this column.

Nothing like looking at the actual flight hardware that’s going to be on another planet or watching a giant multi-legged robot cross the street in front of you. And yes, a lot of the engineers and scientists who work there could be characters on The Big Bang Theory. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but there’s a resemblance. Being in the room with those guys and gals is amazing. Some of the finest scientific and technical minds anywhere on Earth. I feel very privileged to have supported the efforts from my business-oriented vantage point as a contracts person.

cover copyright Veronica Scott
Cover copyright Veronica Scott.

The fourth thing I’ve geeked out about, which certainly influenced me as an author, would be comic books. As a kid, I had thousands squirreled away in my bedroom, mostly DC comics. I wasn’t into Marvel then, other than Thor. Two of my all-time favorites were Magnus Robot Fighter and Brothers of the Spear.

More geeking?

Interviewing John Scalzi, which I got to do for my USA Today “Happily Ever After SciFi Encounters” column. Talking to him was fascinating! His mind goes a mile a minute in a good way and as an interviewer, I absolutely felt motivated to try to ask him questions he hadn’t been asked before a million times. Discussing the processes of writing a novel, comparing notes with him, was like a Masters’ class for me. Really a rare and memorable experience!

You can find Veronica Scott at her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Her latest is Star Cruise: Marooned, on sale for just 99 cents:

Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised—the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.

Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

Power Up for Back-to-School with ‘Power Rangers Dino Charge’ Products

Power-Rangers-Dino-Charge-Backpack--pTRU1-21061767dtAs August rolls around, thoughts (at least for parents) turn to back to school supplies. For younger children, this means items featuring their favorite fictional characters. Like the Power Rangers.

The Power Rangers have shown remarkable staying power in all their incarnations and this newest form, Dino Charge, represents the show’s 22nd season.  It probably helps that dinosaurs have been added to the mythology, and that the Rangers this time include a budding archeologist, a waitress with a vast knowledge of dinosaurs, a caveman living in modern times, a master swordsman, and a resident of New Zealand because, of course. 

Brand-new episodes of Power Rangers Dino Charge will premiere on Saturday, August 22, at 12 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. According to the press release, the show “will continue to deliver more dino-charged action and adventure than ever before, and even introduce some brand new Rangers!”

Our sponsor, Saban Brands, is offering a special gift pack for GeekMom readers, which includes:

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  • Power Rangers Dino Charge backpack, a 16 x 12 x 5 inch backpack with front zip pocket and two side pockets. It also includes reflective piping and taping, a heat sealed PVC patch, and padded back and straps for comfort. Retail value: $14.99, available at Kohl’s and Toys R Us.
  • Power Rangers Lunch Kit, a 9.5 x 7.5 x 3.5 inch square insulted lunch box, which includes reflective print and piping on both side panels, and PE piping on the back panel, as well as a padded handle.  Retail value: $7.99, available at Toys R Us.
  • Dino Charge Blue Group Tee, retail value $14.00 available at JCPenney.
  • Power Ranges Drink Blocks, naturally-flavored water in stackable and connectable bottles/building blocks for young imaginations. Sugar-free, Gluten-free, zero calories. Retail value $1.29/bottle or $10/10 bottles.
  • Power Rangers Pencils (12ct), featuring three unique designs with images of the Dino Charge Ranger team and their Zords. Retail value, $2.99, available at Party City.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US addresses only, prizing provided by Saban Brands. Entries accepted through 8/17!

Exclusive ‘Scooby-Doo: Where Are You?’ Preview

Image: DC Comics

Aside from superheroes, DC Comics also publishers several television tie-in comics, and Scooby-Doo is one of the most prominent. In this exclusive preview to issue #60, the original Scooby Gang has to confront Viking Marauders.


Here’s the official description from the website:

When the ghosts of legendary Norse explorers—better known as Vikings!—start to haunt a local ferry operator, Scooby and the Mystery Gang take to the water! Will running their own ferry boat help them get to the bottom of this mystery, or just sink to the bottom of the river? Find out in “The Case of the Frightful Ferry”!

Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? #60, written and drawn by Scott Gross, is available at local comic shops on August 12th, and digitally via

All images copyright DC Comics.


DC Comics Round-Up for Issues Released 8/5/2015

Midnighter fights the clone army in Midnighter #3, copyright DC Comics
Midnighter fights the clone army in Midnighter #3, copyright DC Comics

Each week, Ray Goldfield and I review DC Comics new releases so you don’t have to. Ray is a long-time DC reader. It takes a great deal for him to give up on a book. I’m a long-time DC reader with far less patience, so we often disagree on the books.

This week, we’re both still pleased with the new Batman status quo but whereas Ray still enjoys Green Lantern, I’m lost within its complicated and backstory-filled plot, while I enjoyed an alternate universe Wonder Woman and Ray thought the story was random.

We both strongly endorse the Book of the Week, Midnighter #3.

Also, this week I’m going to start keeping track of women in the credits. Because I’m curious. This week, out of 28 major credits: one woman.

Let’s hope next week is better.

Midnighter #3 – Steve Orlando, writer, Aco, penciller, Aco with Hugo Petrus, inks

Ray: 9/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy It.

Ray: I had given up the Wildstorm line of characters for dead ever since Nathan Edmondson left Grifter behind, but Steve Orlando and Aco have done the unthinkable and made Midnighter—yes, the 90’s ultraviolent take on gay Batman—one of the best new titles in the DCU. Thus far, Orlando has smartly kept the title to done-in-one stories focusing on Midnighter’s various missions, bookended by sequences of his personal life as he attempts to rebound from a nasty breakup with Apollo. The book’s tone is much more similar to a spy thriller than a traditional super-hero book, and while the extreme violence that the character is known for is present, it feels like it’s used much better than it used to be. The inventive panel layouts when Midnighter demolishes a room of thugs make it seem more like a ballet of violence than a slaughterhouse.

This issue’s main case finds Midnighter on the trail of a kidnapped girl, who has been taken by a mad scientist who is seeking a way to transplant minds into new, healthier bodies, and who has employed the self-cloning criminal Multiplex as his muscle. Countless disposable clones? You know Midnighter’s going to have fun here, but I was also impressed with the compassion he showed towards his young rescuee and her mother. The segments with his new SO Matt are fun, and I’m looking forward to the showdown with Agent Grayson teased at the end of this issue. This book is a sleeper that deserves more readers, and anyone with an interest in either spy comics or LGBT leads would be advised to pick this up.

Corrina: I can’t add much to Ray’s comprehensive review but what most impresses me about this title is that the creative team has taken what should be a cliche–bitter, uber-violent superhero–and made him a full-fledged human being. I care if Midnighter wins or loses. I even kinda want him to win over Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli of Spyral, especially since he grabbed Dick and made a joke about “date night.”

Batman: Detective #43 cover, image copyright DC Comics
Batman: Detective #43 cover, image copyright DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #43 – Brian Buccellato, writer and colors, Fernando Blanco, art

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Buy It.

While not quite up to the masterpiece that Scott Snyder’s Batman run is turning into, Brian Buccellato’s soon-to-be-concluded run on Detective is turning into a satisfying companion piece. Last issue saw Jim Gordon ditching his cumbersome Batsuit to take on the La Morte gang hands-on. He fights them back and knocks out two of them, but one gets away—with the power core of his suit, which was what they were going for all along. It soon becomes clear that the gang, along with whoever is employing them, is targeting a major gathering at the Gotham Circus for an attack, and Harvey reveals that Yip is dirty to the rest of the team, asking Gordon to help him kill her. Meanwhile, the escaped La Morte member heads to a rendezvous with his Falcone Family handler, who proceeds to then sell the core to the Joker’s Daughter. Can’t say I’m thrilled to see this cut-rate Harley appear again, especially when the original is doing so well right now, but maybe this will be her first good storyline. Bullock confronts Yip, trying to find a way to get her back on their side, but it goes about as well as you’d expect. And in the closing moments of the issue, it becomes clear what the Joker’s Daughter wanted the power core for—to power her own giant Joker robot. It’s all a bit ridiculous in places, especially given the grounded police-heavy tone of the previous arc, but it’s definitely entertaining. Buccellato and Blanco are embracing Snyder’s new status quo with gusto, and hopefully Tomasi’s run will follow suit.

Corrina: Hey, Jim Gordon is running around Gotham in a robot Batman suit. We’re already in ridiculous territory! But it works because Jim himself realizes how massive this job can be and that he’s still learning. The art reminds me strongly of Michael Lark’s work on Gotham Central or Alex Maleev on Daredevil. So I know what Ray means about ridiculous, because on one side, it’s a gritty police procedural with science fiction elements. On the other hand, it has a monster-size Joker robot. Here’s hoping it ends with the Joker’s daughter (ugh!) in custody and the monster robot destroyed. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Harvey wants to kill his partner in the sense of making it look like she’s dead so she can start a new life.

Justice League Gods and Monsters: Wonder Woman #1 – story by J. M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm, script by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Dan Green

Ray: 6.5/10

Corrina: Buy It.

Bekka searches for meaning on Earth, panel from JL: Gods and Monsters Wonder Woman #1, copyright DC Comics
Bekka searches for meaning on Earth, panel from JL: Gods and Monsters Wonder Woman #1, copyright DC Comics

Ray: The third and unfortunately weakest of these darker alternate takes on the trinity, this take on Wonder Woman is the most radically changed from the original in a way that doesn’t quite work. Batman is still a crime-fighting creature of the night. Superman is still a super-powered refugee from the stars. Wonder Woman is…a New God who is stranded on Earth and joins a hippie commune in the ’60s? This Wonder Woman is Bekka of the New Gods, last seen in Sinestro, and here she crash-lands right before the Cuban Missile Crisis. While exploring Earth and trying to fight injustice, she comes across a traveling band of Acid-popping hippies, and agrees to come with them to their farm. One of the guys, Guitar Joe, quickly becomes a friend and maybe more, but the other, calling himself Doctor Psycho, is engaging in dangerous psychotropic experiments that are driving people insane. When she tries to stop him, he poisons her and makes her see her fellow hippies as the enemy, then mutates his prisoners into Bat-like monsters. This isn’t so much a darker take on WW like the other two, just a weird, random one.

Corrina: I disagree. I thought this comic was entirely in the spirit of Wonder Woman. I opened it with trepidation. It seemed every Wonder Woman alternate take ups the violence and turns her into a killing machine. This comic was a pleasant surprise in that it focused on her compassion and her need to understand humanity. No, it’s not Princess Diana, but Bekka’s quest for truth and a community that she could call home captured Wonder Woman’s spirit. It also reminded me, in a good way, of Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke’s take on Silk Spectre in the Before Watchmen series. The only place readers can find the Wonder Woman who isn’t Princess McStabby Sword is in the digital-first Sensation Comics.

This is an alternate take on the idea of Wonder Woman but it’s far more on the nose than the majority of Wonder Woman stories being published right now.

Bat-Mite #3 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Corin Howell, artist

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Buy It? Maybe.

Ray: Of the two new comedy titles that DC launched, this one is the one that feels much more grounded in the real DCU while still embracing the absurd. Rather than keeping Bat-mite in his own wacky world, Dan Jurgens gets most of the laughs by contrasting him with the rest of the DCU. And there’s no better character for that than this issue’s guest start, the littlest Grimdark, Damian Wayne. We open with Bat-mite getting on his new roommate’s nerves (although as one of them is a federal agent assigned to study him, they may not kick him out), before heading out on his quest to save the day. He stumbles upon Robin, who’s been captured by the new villain Gridlock and temporarily paralyzed. That’s Gridlock’s power, and his motivation…well, his motivation seems to be that he’s a grumpy old man. He hates progress and wants to slow the world down like the good old days. He’s kind of ridiculous as a villain, but then he’s supposed to be in a title like this. Most of the fun comes from Damian bickering and fighting with Bat-Mite as they work together against Gridlock. Although again, this bugs me every issue—if Bat-Mite is some sort of powerful reality-altering imp, why is he constantly getting beat up or nearly drowned. Either way, the jokes work and next issue promises a team up with Jurgens’ signature character, Booster Gold. Looking forward to the rest of this mini.

Corrina: The charm of this book entirely depends on the reader’s attachment to the little psychopath, er, the Damian Wayne Robin. As such, it’s fun to read the contrast between the fun-loving Bat-Mite and the grimmer than Batman Robin. But I rather like Bat-Mite’s interactions with regular humans better than those with costumed heroes and villains. I could easily read a series of “Bat-Mite screws up his human’s life” again stories. But that should happen next week with Booster Gold, so it’s a win/win.

Green Lantern #43 – writer, Robert Vendetti, artist, Ethan Van Sciver

Ray: 7.5/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: The new “Space Pirates” status quo got off to an interesting start as Hal built his team, composed of a nasty ship AI, an orphaned alien prince, and a ruthless slaver who is currently a captive. However, it’s starting to drag a bit as the smallness of the cast shows. The issue opens well with Black Hand showing up on a world beset by plague to try to resurrect someone, only to cause the world to be entombed in Source Wall stone like the last world we saw. Surprisingly, Ethan Van Sciver does full art on this issue, and no one draws cosmic horror quite like that guy.

Cutting to Hal’s ship, they’ve just encountered the alien scientist Relic, who escaped from the Source Wall. Given Relic’s blood vendetta against all ring bearers, Hal goes undercover and tries to communicate with him and find out what he knows. However, all this goes sideways when Virgo tries on Hal’s gauntlet to be ready to provide backup, and knocks himself out, causing a massive discharge of energy that alerts Relic to who’s watching him. Naturally, he attacks and it becomes a race against time to restart the ship and escape before he wipes them out. It’s exciting, but doesn’t really give us any answers or advance the plot too much. We do get hints of a new villain when a representative of the Gray Agents, a new threat, shows up to destroy the gaming den where Virgo and Trapper were found. There’s potential here, but it’s got a bit too much of a “Star Trek: Voyager” vibe right now.

Corrina: Black Hand. Relic the alien scientist. Gray Agents, Virgo….there’s so much in this issue that it’s over-stuffed, except for the terrific panel spreads by Van Sciver. Not a GL fan, specifically not a Hal Jordan fan, and there’s nothing for a casual reader in this book to grab onto. This one is strictly for die-hards.

Omega Men #3 – Tom King, writer, Barnaby Bagenda, artist,

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: Buy It: Yes, if you have the first few issues

Ray: Much like Midnighter, this title seems determined to experiment with format and style every issue, and it does so in much more drastic ways than the other book. For one thing, every issue seems to open with a cold open, throwing us into a new situation, often a new planet, and letting us figure it out as we go on. It often feels much more like an Image book than a DC book. This issue opens on a colony of the Citadel populated by a religious minority that rules over the natives on this world. We’re introduced to a ruthless Princess who requires natives to duel her with swords and kills them without mercy. As she and her advisor discuss affairs, they come under attack by Tigorr and other members of the Omega Men, who fight them brutally and apparently fatally in some cases. The Omega Men capture the princess, take her back to their ship, and implant her with the same bomb that they gave Kyle before introducing their two captives to each other. At which point we find out that Princess Kalista was in on it the whole time and is in fact Primus’ lover and the leader of the Omega Men. Points for ambition and for the clearest narrative in any of the three issues so far. This title is still a bit scattered, but it might be finding its footing.

Corrina: This is an ambitious title that is (I think) chronicling an intergalactic rebellion. That means a huge cast of characters and mysterious motivations from all sides. It’s all intriguing but, as Ray said, it’s a bit of a mess. That’s because the title seems to restart each issue with focus on someone else or a new angle instead of building on what was established in the previous issues.

The end result is a huge cast of characters in an ill-defined situation but with a creative team that is obviously talented and knows where it’s going. This is one of those comics where it might be better from a storytelling standpoint to wait for the trade and get it all at once, instead of bits and pieces.

The Flash: Season Zero #11 – story by Andrew Kreisberg, script by Lauren Certo, pencils by Phil Hester, inks by Eric Gapstur

Ray:  7/10

Corrina: Buy It? No, unless you’re so eager for season 2 of the Flash that a comic will do.

Ray: This title taking place in and around the first season of the hit TV series is coming to a close next issue, and while all anthologies are a mixed bag, I think this series has been significantly better than the equivalent Arrow title. This issue focuses on the team of Captain Cold and Heatwave, soon to be starring in their own spin-off, and shows us how the team actually got together. Barry and Joe are trying to track the duo down, and that leads Joe to share the story of the first time he encountered them, back when Snart was a low-level heist man saddled with an incompetent crew who screwed up a major heist. Seeking better help, he recruited Mick, a flame-obsessed criminal who was more than a little intense but good at what he did. After helping Snart escape the cops, they teamed up on an elaborate heist at the art museum, complete with threatening the entire art collection with fiery destruction. This is one of the best representations of the duality of the two criminals I’ve seen in a while, and while the story’s just sort of there, the characterization is strong throughout.

Corrina: If the Arrow digital-first series is worse than this, I guess I haven’t missed much. This is basically the backstory of how Captain Cold and Heatwave first teamed up. I enjoy their comic counterparts most of the time but the television versions have left me, well, cold. So while Ray sees strong characterization, I just see more of Cold planning things to the second, over and over and Heatwave setting things on fire. I get it! One’s anal and the other is spontaneous. Pass.

Batman Beyond #3 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Bernard Chang,

Ray: 6/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: Dan Jurgens’ other book this week is hobbled by the fact that it’s lacking absolutely everything that makes Bat-mite work—that is, a sense of humor, a sense of fun, and a sense of optimism. It’s not a terrible book on the surface, in that the art is good, the storytelling is clear enough, and Tim Drake isn’t written badly, but who saw the original Batman Beyond cartoon and thought “You know what would make this better? If it was set in some horrible Skynet meets the Walking Dead hellhole!”? Future’s End didn’t work for a reason. When we open, Tim is being tortured by Brother Eye and forced to relive his life, but Barbara Gordon and the ALFRED AI manage to snap him out of it, allowing him to turn the tables on Brother Eye and escape. It’s revealed that Eye is keeping Inque’s daughter hostage, which is the reason she’s working with him. Tim is able to rescue Max and Barbara and take them back to the safe house, where Matt finally gives him his blessing to carry on for his brother. Unfortunately, Brother Eye managed to follow them back, and now Neo-Gotham is vulnerable to invasion from the cyborg army. There’s pretty much nothing here but unrelenting grimness, and that’s disappointing.

Corrina: This series couldn’t help being terrible because it was a follow-up to the terrible and mostly pointless adjective-less Future’s End event. Why would we want to follow up on Terry McGuinness’ death? I have no idea. I was intrigued by the addition of older Barbara Gordon to the cast. (Is the new future Batgirl around? Not so far.) But now I’m just hoping this series ends as soon as possible.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #7 – writer, Brian Buccellato, penciller, Bruno Redondo, inker, Juan Albarran

Ray: 5/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: This title started off incredibly well under Tom Taylor, but as it drags on towards its 50th issue, it seems to have unfortunately become a generic fight comic. Despite both sides bringing their biggest threats, neither one seems able to deliver a killing blow, despite one being lead by Superman. It’s essentially a more one-sided version of Civil War. Hercules is about to kill Wonder Woman when Shazam streaks out out the air and beats him down. Shazam is easily the best part of this issue, actually sounding like a kid in the middle of a war. Shazam hesitates in killing Hercules after stopping him, only for Superman to fly back onto the battlefield and finish the job. Zeus, enraged at his son’s murder, orders a full invasion and Superman is hit with a plague arrow, and a lightning bolt hits Shazam and takes away his powers in mid-air. Meanwhile, Batman and Damian have their long-awaited rematch, but this Damian is so unlikable and cruel to his father that it just makes me long for their dynamic in the main line.

Corrina: Everybody fights everyone, Harley Quinn makes some jokes in the background, and Bruce and Damian Wayne throw-down because Damian is upset Bruce blamed him for Dick’s death. Comics are fun, kids! This is, naturally, based on the game. The initial series had some horrible moments, (hey, let’s have Superman accidentally kill a pregnant Lois!) and yet had some poignant moments, but now it all seems like one big fight-fest. Pass.

Lobo #9 – Cullen Bunn, plot, Frank Bariere, dialogue, Szymon Kudranski, art

Ray: 4/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: With no Sinestro in sight, this title—now co-written by Frank Barbiere, because something had to go with Cullen Bunn writing 92 titles every month—descends back into the space ultraviolence that has been its M.O. for the entire run so far. Lobo is in thrall to Countess Fabria Odessa, a ruthless space crime lord who controls people via robotic spiders that she implants in their skin. There are way too many shots of spiders crawling on and in people, BTW, so be warned. It’s revealed that she’s running an operation providing body parts for those who may need them, but other than that she remains a stock villain. An assassin, Wyvern Cross of the Citadel (from Omega Men) intervenes and helps Lobo get free before trying to recruit him, but Lobo has his own agenda and declines. There is an interesting twist at the end, as Odessa reveals that her main goal was to get Lobo’s DNA to clone him, but otherwise, this series doesn’t really have an interesting hook.

Corrina: Still not interested in whether Lobo lives or dies, still not interested in this plot that takes Lobo across the universe in search of some traitor in some secret assassin group. I suppose I should be impressed by Lobo’s cleverness or freaked out by the robot mind-controlling spiders but I’m with Ray. There’s no interesting hook in this series, for new readers or old.

Ray Goldfield is a Writer/Editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. A comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic. 

Gotham’s Finest Sale at Comixology

Jim Gordon, Batman
Image via Comixology. Characters & art copyright DC Comics.

If you’re reading the current Batman comics, you know that Jim Gordon, former police commissioner, has temporarily assumed the role of Batman with the help of a robot suit. (Call it a primitive Batman Beyond suit.)

It’s a plot twist that shouldn’t work but does, thanks to the wry voice of Gordon in his new role. It’s also created new fans for Gordon. Being one of the world’s biggest Jim Gordon fans, all I have to say is, “What took you so long?”

Comixology is now offering the chance to catch up on Gordon’s adventures with back issues for 99 cents each, with a selection from the storylines “Officer Down,” “No Man’s Land,” and the more recent stories by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

The sale ends August 10, so check it out soon. Not only do the issues highlight Gordon, but they’re from some of the finest Batman storylines of the last two decades.

DC Comics Capsule Reviews For 7/29 Releases

Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Kate Kane
Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson almost meet. Image copyright DC Comics

Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comics releases. This week, I’ll be joining Ray and add my own impressions of the books. We mostly agree, especially on Batgirl, have a bit of a disagreement over the latest Superman installment, and are definitely of the same mind with the stories featuring the villains.

League: Gods and Monsters-Superman #1, story by J.M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm, script by J.M. DeMatteis, art and colors by Moritat

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Buy It: Yes.

Ray: Probably more so than any other hero, Superman lends himself to alternate universes. For want of a nail, he could have landed anywhere and become a different kind of hero—or a villain. So it’s no surprise that the Superman chapter of the Gods and Monsters alternative universe by DeMatteis, Timm, and Moritat is easily the best yet. This isn’t quite the Superman we know—although it’s never stated in the book, this isn’t Kal-El, but rather Lor-Zod, the son of General Zod, who we’ve previously known as Chris Kent.

He’s rocketed to Earth in place of Kal-El, but he lands with a poor immigrant family in Southern California, where they work as day laborers. Hernan Guerra, as he’s named grows up to see his family struggle and fall victim to abuse from their employers and locals. His parents, worried what will happen if he’s discovered, urge him to keep his powers secret, but as he grows older Hernan bristles under their rules and begins using his powers to subvert the forces keeping his family down. He also starts displaying an odd sociopathic streak, which leads to an accident that puts his sister in a wheelchair and furthers his growing estrangement from humanity. After a violent incident with some locals, he goes on the run, becoming a transient and learning about humanity—until a brazen kidnapping by an evil cartel boss pulls him out of hiding, leading him to make his debut as a brutal vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner.

Overall, it’s a fascinating look at a Superman who grew up with all the power but a jaundiced view of humanity. He seems like inherently a good person, unlike some of the dark villainous supermen we’ve seen, but one whose cynicism makes him more likely to rule the world rather than protect it. If the goal of this series of one-shots is to make me want to watch the movie, it’s succeeding. 

Corrina: What if a Kryptonian baby was found by Mexican immigrants in America who worked in the fields? He would receive a look at the American dream from the lowest rung, be immediately confronted with racial and prejudice, and become an angry man with the powers of a God. The fascinating element about this story is that it’s not clear if this elseworlds Superman naturally trends to the dark side or if he would have turned out differently if he’d not faced such hardship, because even as a boy, his powers fueled his arrogance.

The Gods and Monsters series of stories is based on an upcoming direct-to-video movie that was released on DVD Tuesday but with this story and last week’s Batman, comic readers are also getting fantastic elseworlds tales.

Superman, Gods and Monsters, Justice League
Young Gods and Monsters Superman, image via DC Comics.

Batgirl #42, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, writers, Babs Tarr, artist.

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Buy It? Yes.

Ray: Batgirl under the new creative team of Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr has been controversial from the start, mainly due to its radically different tone from Gail Simone’s run. While I am a bit sad to see the last vestiges of the more mature Barbara Gordon who was Oracle fade away, I feel like this is an excellent run that probably would have been received a lot better if it kicked off a full reboot with no ties to the original.

This book’s Barbara is very much in the model of quirky, smart, sarcastic girl heroes like Buffy and Veronica Mars, and it works, as does the extensive new supporting cast. The writers find interesting things for every supporting character to do, such as Frankie getting deeper into her new role as Babs’ behind the scenes support, Qadir getting a new job working for Batwing Luke Fox, and even Alysia Yeoh making a return at the end of the issue and dropping a bombshell that probably won’t be all that surprising to those of us who have read Batgirl: Futures End.

The main plot of the issue has Batgirl trying to round up Livewire before she hurts anyone, but this cartoon transplant villain is more of a plot device for the real conflict—Barbara facing off with her father, the new Batman. This could easily have been a cliche in lesser hands, with Jim Gordon being portrayed as a by-the-book lawman looking to arrest a vigilante, but Stewart and Fletcher put a lot more balance in his role. He’s a man struggling with a new role and trying to balance his responsibilities with orders he knows are wrong. He and Batgirl are still on opposite sides—he makes clear he has to take her in and he can’t protect her forever if she doesn’t take his advice and hang up the costume—but it’s a much more subtle and well-written version than we usually see when heroes are pitted against each other. And this is done without Gordon knowing who’s under Batgirl’s mask.

If I had one complaint, it’s that Barbara’s dialogue is a bit too playful and light given the circumstances. It’s well-written, but she almost seems like Spider-man at points. Overall, though, this title has been promising from the start, but I don’t think any Bat-family title has benefited from the new Gotham status quo more than this one. 

Corrina: Livewire, from the Superman: The Animated Series, invades Gotham, forcing the new robot Batman (Jim Gordon) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) to team-up. The dad and daughter confrontation from last issue is quickly resolved as Batman tells Batgirl he’s letting her escape because he disagrees with the directive to arrest unsanctioned vigilantes. Does Jim know that his daughter is Batgirl?

Unlike Ray, my guess is “yes” because he instantly trusts Batgirl, even to letting her devise the plan that takes down Livewire that also requires Jim to climb out of the suit and simply fight in Batman costume. It’s always fun to see Jim/Barbara interaction and this issue is no different.

Barbara Gordon, Jim Gordon
Panel from Batgirl #42, image copyright DC Comics

Batgirl Annual #3, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, writers. Art by: Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen, Gabriel Eltaeb, and Van Plascencia.

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Buy It? Yes.

Ray: A packed issue that weaves four short stories into one overarching narrative, this annual has the regular writing team on Batgirl paired with a quartet of guest artists, each teaming Batgirl with another member of the Bat-family. The first and longest story is by Bengal, as it sets up a mystery involving missing diplomats and a mysterious machine named the Negahedron. When Barbara goes to investigate, she’s confronted by Director, A.K.A. Helena Bertinelli—and that means that Dick Grayson, who is presumed dead, is also on site.

While there’s a lot of spy action in this story, the bulk of the story is devoted to Dick doing everything under his power to keep from being seen by Barbara—and the way he’s nearly exposed in the final page is one of the funniest scenes in any comic this week. From there, it’s off to a short segment by David Lafuente as Barbara’s stakeout is interrupted by a hyperactive Spoiler, looking to test her combat skills. Spoiler acts a lot more peppy than she normally does here, but it’s fun and sets up a cool dynamic between these two “generations” of Batgirls. From there, Ming Doyle tells the story of Barbara and Batwoman battling an assassin to rescue a friend of Batwoman’s who has the information they need. This is the weakest segment, as Batwoman—outside of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, at least—tends to be written as stoic and bland. This segment is sorely missing the fun dynamic that the first two had, and which comes back in spades in the fourth as Barbara heads to Gotham Academy to decipher a filmstrip she found and is greeted by the Academy’s teen detectives, Maps and Olive. Helen Chen does a great job aping Kerschl’s style on this segment, and Fletcher co-writes both books, so he’s clearly at home.

Overall, this issue’s main plot is kind of a generic excuse to set up these meetings, but by and large it’s a fun read. 

Corrina: This should be called “Batgirl teams up with everybody” because, aside from the “reunion” with Dick Grayson, there’s the Spoiler, Stephanie Brown (herself a former Batgirl but that was two reboots ago), Kate (Batwoman) Kane, and the kids from Gotham Academy. The issue is more of a lighthearted romp and the tone fits best with the Batgirl/Spoiler team-up, while Helene Bertinelli from Grayson seems more than a bit out of character.  But it’s great to see Kate Kane making her first appearance in Gotham since the Convergence series, especially since her segment (which I enjoyed, unlike Ray) and it’s drawn by Ming Doyle

Note: Since Ray won’t tell you, I will: Grayson’s identity is nearly given away by his scrumptious butt.

Gotham by Midnight Annual #1, Ray Fawkes, writers, Christian Duce, art.

Ray: 8.5/10 

Corrina: Buy It? Yes.

Ray: Gotham by Midnight has been pretty steeped in mythology since the start, so it’s nice to see them dial it back a bit and do a creepy done-in-one story that reintroduces a classic DCU rogue. That villain is the Gentleman Ghost, the famous Golden Age villain who has never been creepier than he is in this issue. Ray Fawkes is joined on this annual by Christian Duce, whose art is a lot more subtle than the regular artists’ but is nonetheless nicely creepy when it needs to be. The story opens with Jim Craddock, a handsome suitor, seducing a young heiress only for her to mysteriously collapse when the GCPD arrives and he absconds with a necklace of hers. He leads them on a twisty hunt through the mansion as he reveals himself to have ghostly powers that allow him to disappear and manipulate matter. There’s a hilarious segment where Officer Drake tries to arrest a ghost and it goes about as well as you’d expect.

The police cast is limited to Drake and Corrigan this issue, and you know what that means—the Spectre is coming out at some point. Fawkes seems to be channeling the vibe of a classic romantic ghost story this issue, revealing Craddock’s tragic backstory while still making him far scarier than any previous version of the character—his final form once he’s caught on a getaway train is fantastic. I did think how Craddock meets his fate in the end was a bit anti-climatic, but I suppose few fights with the Spectre last very long. This title seems to be finding its footing nicely, and this was easily my favorite of the five annuals this week. 

Corrina: The Gentleman Ghost is one of those Batman villains suited to either lighthearted fun as he appears and disappears through Gotham or something darker and sinister. Since this is Gotham’s horror comic, the Ghost in this one is someone who can literally steal breath away as he tries to obtain a necklace that meant something to his human self. It’s gothic, creepy, and, as Ray said, more than a bit romantic. A great story to try out this series, if you haven’t yet.

Lobo Annual #1, Cullen Bunn, writers, Robson Rocha, pencils, Guillermo Ortego, inks.

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: I’ve never been a big fan of Cullen Bunn’s Lobo series, mainly because I feel like it’s a return to the bland ultra violence that has pretty much characterized every Lobo solo series since the beginning of time. But what he does here is pretty inventive, and sets up what could be the most interesting story for the character in ages. Lobo is embarking on his biggest bounty hunt ever—targeting Sinestro, now the most powerful Lantern in the galaxy after the disappearance of the GLC. He’s been assassinating ring bearers, trying to draw Sinestro out, but with no success. The story sags a bit whenever Lobo is dealing with his own space crime connections, but it picks up in a big way when Lobo ups the stakes, capturing some Korugan prisoners that Sinestro hasn’t rescued yet and threatening their lives. Sure enough, that draws out the Sinestro Corps, and Lobo allows himself to be “killed” by them, following them back to their headquarters as soon as his body knits itself back together. There he finally gets his confrontation with Sinestro, overwhelming him and beating him—at which point Sinestro cancels the contract he put on himself.

This entire elaborate sting was a way for Sinestro to test Lobo against a ring-wielder so he could hire him for his own purposes. I still find Lobo a rather boring character—but fortunately, midway through this issue it turns into a very good issue of Sinestro.

Corrina: DC’s galactic cynical, arrogant, and murderous bounty hunter with immortality is hired to kill Sinestro of the yellow power ring corps. A decent story with an excellent (if gory) demonstration of Lobo’s ability to regenerate at will, but I’m utterly uninterested in the main character and while Ray enjoys Sinestro, I have no interest. However, Sinestro fans may well want this issue.

Deathstroke Annual #1, written by Tony Daniel and James Bonny, art by Tyler Kirkham.

Ray: 4/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: This issue continues directly from the main series with Tony Daniel and James Bonny co-writing and Tyler Kirkham on art. Unfortunately, that means the story is just as forgettable as it was in the main book. Deathstroke was tricked into releasing the evil Titan Lapetus, and now he and Wonder Woman are teaming up to kill the villain before he can overrun the world with monsters. Lapetus is pretty much your generic fantasy villain, talking a lot about how he hates humanity and vengeance will be his, but not much beyond that. After some generic battles, Slade and Diana are swept up into a portal and wind up in Tartarus, where they battle monsters made up of thousands of smaller monsters and are confronted with specters of their worst nightmare. Diana is confronted with a post-apocalyptic world where she’s caused the end of the world as God of War. Slade is confronted with younger versions of his children in mortal danger. There’s some cool visuals, especially involving Tartarus, but the story here is thin and really lacks any likable characters to latch on to. Deathstroke is so out of place in this fantasy story that there’s almost a disconnect. Nothing is really resolved, either, as Slade and Diana escape and wind up back where they started, ready to face Lapetus. It’s not DC’s worst series, but it’s one of its most forgettable.

Corrina: Like Lobo, Slade Wilson is a cynical mercenary and given that the only interesting element about him, his backstory, has been mostly wiped away, I’m as interested in him as I am in Lobo, which is not at all.

The attraction here is Wonder Woman. Their team-up leads both of them through traumatic moments of their past. (Slade’s two kids make an appearance. I guess Grant is forgotten.) Like everywhere else, Wonder Woman is mostly out of character, flippantly threatening to kill Slade because that’s how Princess McStabby Sword operates now. There are hints of her compassion later in the issue but it’s not enough. However, the fights this issue are mostly filler until the big battle with the Titan.

Aside: Slade’s eyepatch and goatee have gone to the same place as Jim Gordon’s glasses and mustache. Is it a crime to look older in DC comics now? (The only exception seems to be Dick Grayson who basically adopts Slade’s old look to fool Batgirl over in her annual.)

Superman #42, Gene Yang, writer, John Romita Jr., penciller, Klaus Janson, inks.

Ray: 7.5/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: While Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder have been handling the “Truth” storyline very well in their two titles, it’s up to newbie Superman writer Gene Yang to show how we got there. Two issues in, he seems to be setting up the pieces effectively, but there’s still a few major logical hiccups in the story that are causing me some trouble. First up, credit where credit’s due—Yang has created one of my favorite new Superman villains in years with the evil information collective HORDR. While a Supervillain take on Anonymous may at first seem like a better fit for a hip title like Batgirl, it makes perfect sense given how journalism and secrets are so key to Superman’s character. HORDR’s M.O. is to find secrets on powerful people, and blackmail them until they control the power brokers in every area of the world—and now they’re trying to lay claim to Superman.

The former HORDR member Condesa fills them in, but not before the group finds them and tries to kill them via engineered shadow ninjas. Clark fights them off, but this gives Lois the last bit of evidence she needs, and this forces Clark to admit to her that he’s Superman. We’ve seen this sort of scene a few times before, and I’ve got to say her anger and sense of betrayal sort of feels off to me here. Not only is she usually more understanding, but she and Clark didn’t have the same level of relationship that they did in other versions. Fortunately, the focus soon shifts to the group infiltrating HORDR’s base with the help of Condesa and some tech from Hiro the Toyman. Condesa and Jimmy seem to have a fun rapport that might indicate a future relationship, and the mystery villain behind HORDR is an intriguing figure. The loss of Superman’s powers is a bit of a deus ex machina—he’s using a solar flare when some mysterious figure shows up and zaps him, then disappears. There’s still a lot of questions to be answered here, but Yang is doing a good job with a story that would be a challenge for anyone to write.

I’m not entirely sold yet, but I’m intrigued.

Corrina: This is how much I hate this flashback story supposedly leading to the reason why Lois Lane outed Superman to the world: Lois reveals that through her investigative work, she knows Clark is Superman. It should be an iconic moment and a turning point in their relationship but my reaction is a shrug. It doesn’t help that Lois’ characterization this issue is so one-note angry rather than more nuanced. She literally rips his shirt off.

As Ray said, The plot revolves around a superpowered version of 4Chan (Ray said Anonymous but this group seems to be more wide-ranging than that), with an anonymous mastermind, Hordr_Root pulling the strings.  (If you read that as Hodor, you’re not the only one.) The banter between Condesa, a former member of the group, and Jimmy works but I thought the dialogue a bit off for Condesa, giving her a little too much slang.  Props to the art team. The issue looks great (though Lois is drawn a big young).

I’m so not sold on this premise or Lois’ characterization or even Superman’s characterization.

Flash Annual #4, Van Jensem, writer, Bong Dazo, Penciller, Norm Rapmund, inker.

Ray: 6.5/10

Corrina: Buy It? No.

Ray: Some annuals directly continue the main story, while others take the opportunity to do a key side story without actually interrupting the flow of the main series. This is the latter, as Van Jensen and Bong Dazo introduce us to Eobard Thawne’s acolytes who will be testing the Flash shortly. Each of them has been hit by lightning at some point, giving them powers, but the interesting thing is that they’re all from different decades or centuries, indicating that Thawne has been around far longer than anyone knew.

Unfortunately, by and large these characters don’t make that much of an impression. The story starts in 16th century Central America, as a Native woman is pursued as a witch by Spanish conquerers, due to her ability to age and de-age things around her. In 19th century Africa, where the Africans are forced to mine for diamonds by the Dutch colonists, a man with the ability to turn his body to shadow and fold into the walls steals the diamonds and returns them to the mine, hoping to drive the occupiers off. In early 20th century Australia, a Maori strongwoman is pushed too far by a local racist. And in 1980s America, a young boy can summon tornadoes. Each has their life destroyed by their powers, only to be recruited into Thawne’s army and trained for a coming war with the Flash. Then, in a series of brief segments, it’s revealed that Thawne was the one who set each of them up to have their lives ruined. These characters could develop into something interesting, but overall their origins tend to be a bit repetitive and we don’t know enough about Thawne yet for this to have the impact it should.

Corrina: It’s a villains issue as the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, travels through time to recruit acolytes who believe he’s a hero and that Barry Allen is a villain. Eobard, of course, has set up the circumstances that cause this new band of villains to trust him in the first place. I supposed it’s all okay if you’re a Flash diehard but I’m not inspired.

Ray Goldfield is a writer/editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. He’s a comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans in particular. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic.

Weekly DC Comics Capsule Reviews: Released 7/22/2015

Cyborg #1, copyright DC Comcis
Cyborg #1. Copyright DC Comics.

Welcome to a new feature on GeekMom, a look at DC Comics’ weekly output in a nutshell by columnist Ray Goldfield.

Ray is a writer/editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. He’s a comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans in particular. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic. 

Ray’s been reviewing DC comics published each week for years, informally, and we’re happy to give him a formal platform.

Cyborg #1 – 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

DC has been trying to make a go of turning Cyborg into an A-lister for a while, complete with a permanent slot on the Justice League and a movie in development, but this is his first try at a solo series. They’ve said they were waiting for the right pitch, and it looks like it paid off. David F. Walker, an experienced indie filmmaker and writer, knows what makes Cyborg unique, and that’s his connection to the world of technology. Walker is partnered with superstar artist Ivan Reis, a clear show of faith in this book, and they waste no time throwing us into the action via an intergalactic battle between two alien forces. The Technosapiens, menacing beings of organic technology, are in pitched battle against the technology-hating Tekbreakers. Back on Earth, STAR Labs is being besieged by protesters angry that their tech isn’t being given out to normal amputees, but Dr. Stone has more pressing concerns. His son has shown up, sporting a new, more advanced look that he evolved after being killed off in the Convergence preview story.

If I had one complaint about this issue, it’s that it’s very dependent on you having read that short story in some places. It’s all recapped much more smoothly than Omega Men or Lost Army were, though. Walker does a great job digging into Victor’s complex relationship with his father, as well as his interaction with childhood friend Sarah and how he feels about his unique link to the technology that rebuilt him. Reis does a great job of capturing Cyborg’s new powers, and Walker works in just the right amount of humor in the script. To no surprise, the cliffhanger makes clear that the Technosapiens are coming for his technology, and it’s a great hook. I find that the best DC runs in recent years have taken a hero’s concept and used it as an intro into a much bigger world. One of the best first issues to come out of DC’s new wave.

We Are Robin #2 – 9/10

A lot of new titles, especially team books, spend a lot of time getting the team together and setting up characters. It’s often the first full arc before the team is fully together. Not We Are Robin. In fact, most of the team is fully formed before the series even starts, and the only piece left is to recruit POV character Duke Thomas. When we last left off, Duke had infiltrated the lair of a new villain—reminds me a lot of the Ratcatcher, although he hasn’t been identified—who has been hypnotizing survivors of the Joker gas, possibly including Duke’s parents. When the villain turned the crowd on him, Duke found himself bailed out by the mysterious team of Robins.

What I like about Lee Bermejo’s script is that he makes clear that even the more experienced team members are still amateurs, getting overwhelmed at times and making close escapes. This feels very much like a group of amateurs deciding to play hero, as opposed to the way the “official” Robins function. Duke’s narration to his parents grounds things nicely, giving a human face to a pretty big ensemble. Midway, Duke gets left behind and finds himself in the custody of a mysterious “recruiter” who gives him the hard sell on joining up without ever revealing who he is or who he works for. After escaping, he meets back up with the team and they make plans to stop the villain’s bombing scheme. There’s a couple of intriguing mysteries in this issue, both the identity of their benefactor and the being pulling the strings of the villain. It doesn’t quite have the same thrilling energy of the first issue, but this book is very quickly establishing itself as one of the elites in the new wave of Gotham books.

cover copyright DC Comics
Cover copyright DC Comics.

Grayson #10 – 8.5/10

This is one of the DC titles that’s taken the biggest jumps in quality since the Convergence break, and it did it without a single creative change. The original run of the title relied too much on convoluted conspiracy theories about Spyral, as well as bizarre plots involving super-organs. Now, it seems to have been retooled into a straight-forward spy thriller that allows Mikel Janin to show off his art. A mysterious serial killer is hunting Spyral agents who have worked with Dick, and he’s on the run after sucker-punching and framing his partner, Agent 1, for the theft they just pulled off. New director Helena Bertinelli, who Dick had grown close to, struggles with keeping Dick’s cover intact while Agent One wants to hunt him down.

The highlight of this issue, easily, is Dicks’ secret rendezvous with a top-tier Spyral client, Lex Luthor, who is trying to sell the agency some advanced cloaking tech in exchange for Kryptonite. Seeley and King’s Luthor is perfectly oily, the right mix of brilliant businessman with scheming criminal, and it’s great to see these two play off each other again after their memorable encounter in Forever Evil. There’s still some weird continuity hiccups with Batman’s status after Eternal, but it’s a minor issue. Next issue promises a major confrontation between Dick and Agent 1 in the catacombs of Rome. It took a while to get here, but this is a title that I’m pretty sure most Dick Grayson fans are going to dig.

Sinestro #13 – 8/10

Cullen Bunn, probably the most prolific writer in comics with books at DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Oni, Boom, and Dynamite, had made a name for himself as the king of anti-heroes. While it doesn’t quite reach the near-masterpiece that is his Magneto run, he’s writing probably the best GL-verse book right now in Sinestro. Last issue, we saw him forcibly remove his daughter’s GL ring and turn her into a Sinestro Corps supposedly to punish her for her rebellion—but this issue makes clear that thanks to Lyssa Drak’s prophecies, he knew about the disappearance of the GLC, and did it to spare her that fate. As well, of course, as forcing her to join his side and have her under his thumb, because Sinestro never does anything without an agenda. Despite the Sinestro Corps’ new member, they still have the pressing problem of New Korugar about to explode due to the treachery of a mole within the Corps. Sinestro, partnering with new member Bekka of the New Gods, travels to the core of the planet and uses his connection to Parallax to seal the core, but it requires him to let go of his hold on the fear entity, and Bekka is the only one who knows he’s lost that power.

The final scene reveals that Sinestro has known all along that Lyssa Drak was the mole, attempting to remove the distraction of the Korugans, but Sinestro still has use for her. So in a fantastically ruthless move, he executes a trio of foot soldiers to give the impression that justice has been done and cover his ally’s crimes. I’m hoping Bunn stays on this title for a while, because no one besides Geoff Johns has been able to do Sinestro stories this compelling.

Batman ’66 #25 – 8/10

There are two stories this month in this retro digital-first title, and I think it’s one of the best combos they’ve had in a while. Both stories perfectly capture the offbeat nature of the original series, and use concepts we’ve seen less often in this world. The first story, by regular series writer Jeff Parker and Lukas Ketner, features the return of this world’s Harley Quinn. Originally a nurse whose sanity was destroyed by the Joker’s mind machine, she breaks out of Arkham and sets out to establish herself on the Gotham criminal scene.

While I maybe would have liked a longer story featuring this character, the fast-paced tone is perfect for Harley and the way Batman and Robin get the drop on her is clever. I was partial to the second story, by guest team Gabe Soria and Ty Templeton. Barbara Gordon gets a day in the spotlight, as her new temp job at an ad agency is hijacked by the villains of Gotham seeking to rebrand themselves. With the agency taking hostage and Babs without her Bat-gear, it’s up to Barbara to play them against each other long enough for Batman and Robin to show up and take them down. This title is always fun, and I think this was one of their best issues in a while.

Gotham After Midnight #7 – 8/10

This is another title where I feel like the fresh start after Convergence has given it a shot in the arm. Juan Ferreyra, while not quite as distinct as Ben Templesmith, has a really strong, creepy style that suits this horror book well. The addition of Kate Spencer as a district attorney trying to warn the unit that they’re being investigated adds a new threat as well as a new fan-favorite character who had been missing until now. She hasn’t been given quite enough to do in this series yet, but I’m hoping that Ray Fawkes will expand on her character soon. This issue expands on the backstory of Sam Weaver and how he wound up on the Midnight Unit, as well as presenting a new supernatural threat for the team in the form of a parasitic demonic plant that kills people through sheer apathy. When it infects them, it simply causes them to give up on life and lie down until they die from lack of food and water.

The scene where the unit confronts this evil force is tense and well-drawn, but I wonder—is this book falling back on the Spectre a bit too often? Either way, it’s good to have an old-school horror book in the Gotham stable, and I’m hoping the book continues to balance the case of the month with the overarching story effectively.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Batman #1 – 7.5/10

Speaking of horror, this new digital-first title spins out of the upcoming DTV movie, and J.M. DeMatteis and Matthew Dow Smith do a good job of introducing us to a very different Batman. In a world where Kirk Langstrom attempted to cure his Man-Bat infection with an experimental procedure that turned him into a vampire-like creature, he attempts to slake his thirst on the blood of the guilty while protecting the innocent. I’ve liked the recent new takes on Batman that are very different from the iconic one, starting with Jim Gordon and now this book. This is a Batman that reminds me much more of the Hulk than anything, in that he’s a true loner with a monster always just shy of the surface.

After confrontations with his parents and some old friends from his hometown, the story really kicks into high gear when he massacres the Gotham crime lords, led by Lew Moxon. Despite how evil his targets were, he’s haunted by his actions and attempts to befriend Moxon’s seemingly innocent son. The story develops into a series of lies and betrayals leading to a tragic conclusion. This is only a setup for the main story, but it’s an intriguing alternate version of Batman that I’d like to see more of.

Aquaman #42 – 7.5/10

Cullen Bunn’s run on Aquaman is certainly ambitious, switching back and forth between two timelines as we see how Aquaman went from King of Atlantis to a hunted fugitive. Now accompanied by an ancient Atlantean sorcerer, Aquaman has become a protector of a secret race of ancient Atlanteans that are trapped in the strange artifacts that are bursting to the surface around the world. It’s a bit too talky at points, with Aquaman frequently expressing his doubts to his new ally. Things come to the surface towards the end, as a town in Alaska comes under attack by supernatural forces, and Aquaman and his team shows up to fend off the threat—only to come under assault by an Atlantean strike team of assassins led by Tempest and including King Shark and classic Aquaman villain Charybdis, as well as a pair of originals.

As this team of Atlantean radicals attempt to destroy their former king, a massive stone golem rises out of the Pacific and bears down on the town. Even if this comic is a bit of a slow burn as it reveals what caused the rift between Aquaman and Mera, the visuals are fantastic.

The Flash #42 – 7.5/10

This is another title that’s improved a lot since it came back from break. The interminable evil future Flash story is gone, Patty Spivot seems to have been written out for now to allow a bigger role for Iris, and an intriguing new mystery has been set up. When we last left off, Barry’s father suddenly broke out of prison along with a trio of super villains, going on the run after getting reason to worry about his son’s safety. Barry is being kept at a distance on the case by Singh and Frye, forcing him to do his detecting as the Flash. Meanwhile, Professor Zoom is stalking them both, manipulating things using his control of time, such as tricking Henry Allen into killing an innocent security guard.

The highlight of the issue comes when Barry confronts Girder at his grandmother’s home, attempting to get the information out of the villain while also dealing with one very devoted and persistent old lady. Barry is able to find the source of the escape—the guard at Iron Heights, who Henry bribed into looking the other way by promising to help his cancer-stricken wife. The issue ends with Zoom showing up to taunt Barry and lead him to the house where his mother died. This title has ditched a lot of the things that weren’t working and is bringing itself a lot more in line with the TV series. Definitely a good move.

Harley Quinn/Power Girl #2 – 7/10

These two have one of the most amusing buddy-team dynamics in the DCnU, as their adventure through deep space continues. Unfortunately, for the first half of the issue, they’re mostly separated on different adventures on the planet. Harley Quinn gets the better of the two stories, as she and one of Vartox’s allies wind up on the run from a sadistic robot with an obsession with sewing up orifices—that is, until Harley uses the planet’s strange art resources to reshape the robot into a giant bunny rabbit. Power Girl, meanwhile, mainly beats up alien spaceships and tries to close up a portal until she’s bailed out by a mysterious group of female alien warriors (and one male one), who are revealed to be an alliance of Vartox’s exes.

The one guy really doesn’t like that they keep saying “ex-girlfriends.” Harley, naturally, makes her typical excellent first impression by assuming they’re villains and assaulting them. And in the villain’s headquarters, Vartox is being brainwashed into a mindless slave. It’s a pretty light read, but fun, even if it drags a bit in the beginning. I suppose the lesson here is that if you have two characters with a great dynamic together, keep them together as much as possible.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #12 – 7/10

The second anthology comic DC releases this week, this one is 30 pages and two stories—one full-length and one half-length. As often happens with anthologies, there’s a pretty big gulf in quality between the two stories. Fortunately, the strong one takes up the majority of the issue. Derek Fridolfs and Tom Fowler team Wonder Woman with Poison Ivy in a story that takes Diana back to her fantasy roots. Themyscira is under assault by monsters, and Ivy’s arrival on the island is taken as an attack, but it soon becomes clear that she followed Gaia’s call to the island to help in the fight. The villain, Typhon, the father of Monsters, unleashes a monstrous invasion of the island and the Amazons battle his forces while Diana and Ivy descend to the depths of Tartarus. This story portrays a fairly light take on Ivy, but it’s effective and Fridolfs is obviously experienced at handling her. I always like seeing WW kill some monsters.

The second story, by Matthew Manning and Georges Jeanty, is a quick read where Wonder Woman, dealing with the fall-out from a gruesome case, decides to take Batman’s advice and take a vacation to a small village where she fights Solomon Grundy. It’s not bad, but it’s too brief to really make much of an impression.

Wonder Woman #42 – 6/10

The second main arc in this run is a definite improvement over the first, but that’s still not saying all that much, given that the first arc turned Donna Troy into a genocidal monster. The issue opens with Diana and her friend Hessia out on the town, where Diana beats up a sexual harasser and is about to give a homeless man a meal when she’s nearly hit by a magic arrow. She pursues her attacker into the sky, and it’s the same young warrior obsessed with killing her so he can steal the power of Ares. The thing that makes this guy work pretty well is… well, he’s a terrible villain. And this series makes this clear. He’s an arrogant, pouty teenage jackass who believes that he’s entitled to the power of the Gods because he’s a descendant of Poseidon. While he’s fairly incompetent as a threat, he’s more entertaining than most WW villains because of this.

I’m less interested in Donna’s unearned redemption arc, as she’s now wracked with guilt and seeking a way to end her life. Strife covertly releases her from prison and sets her on a quest to find the Fates, who can cut her thread and kill her. I’m assuming this book is planning to eventually turn her into a hero given the solicits for Titans Hunt, but if that was their intention, they probably shouldn’t have introduced her by having her kill a bunch of innocent civilians.

Prez #2 – 5/10

In a strong candidate for quickest cancellation ever, this offbeat relaunch of one of DC’s most obscure properties was cut back from 12 issues to six after only one issue was released. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why. This title doesn’t seem to be very clear on what it wants to be. On one hand, it seems to want to be the story of Beth Ross, aka Corn Dog Girl, aka the President. However, it also seems to revert her to a supporting character in her own comic. Aside from a rather forced scene where her father dies after giving her a motivational speech, most of the comic is actually a very broad political satire about influence trading.

As the presidential race is tied and in Congress, the candidates offer more and more elaborate favors to the various representatives, winding up playing them against each other until more and more wind up voting for protest candidate Beth. When Beth is elected, she’s met by Prez Rickard, a mysterious former teen politician who wants to be her vice president—warning her that she’ll need someone even more controversial than her to protect her from assassination. I salute this book for trying something original, but the total picture isn’t working. It’s way too broad and doesn’t have the compelling characters needed to really work as a satire.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #6 – 5/10

This title has always been incredibly dark, but for the first two volumes, it was a rather fascinating study of the slow deconstruction of the DCU under Tom Taylor. We saw some of DC’s brightest heroes turn into monsters, and some of the rest sell their souls to protect the world from Superman’s invasion. It seemed like anything could happen and usually did. But since Brian Buccellato took over, it seems like this title has been spinning its wheels a bit. Each season seems to be focused on Batman recruiting a new powerhouse force into the battle against Superman, and then failing.

Last season was magic, this season is the Gods of Olympus. There’s an interesting subplot involving Luthor creating a new Superman clone to oppose him, but most of the issue is devoted to Superman in a fairly pointless battle with Hercules that resolves nothing. We know the main players have to survive to the game’s timeline, so there’s really little more to cover here.

Deathstroke #8 – 4.5/10

With last issue, I was starting to think this title might be finding its footing a bit by putting Slade in a different genre. However, things soon take a turn for the less-than-promising. Last issue, Slade shattered an ancient statue that contained the essence of the evil Titan Lapetus on Themyscira. Wonder Woman is less than happy with this, as you might imagine. This results in most of the issue being an extended battle between Slade and Wonder Woman, which goes about as well for Slade as can be expected. After he is sentenced to banishment for violating Themysciran soil, he and Wonder Woman reluctantly agree to work together to fight Lapetus.

One thing I really disliked about this issue was Wonder Woman’s bizarre defeatist attitude, constantly yelling that they’re doomed. It just doesn’t seem in character. The art is strong, and Lapetus shows up at the end of the issue and looks impressive enough. Hoping things pick up a bit next issue, but story is not this book’s strong suit.

Justice League 3001 #2 – 4/10

Slightly less of an embarrassment than last issue, which mainly seemed to be about how much this team hates each other and Superman not understanding gender issues, this book still thinks we’re way too interested in 31st century slavery law than we really are. While the League battles thousands of Starro slaves and Ariel Masters—who is actually evil Lois Lane—attempts to keep up the facade in the media, the team gets yet another new arrival as Supergirl’s spaceship crashes a millennium off schedule. She’s able to team up with the new Flash to find the prime Starro and stop the attack, but it’s then revealed that Ariel/Lois was working with the Starros all along.

It’s so weird that this is the only title Supergirl is currently starring in, given how big she’s about to get as a character in a few months. She deserves much better. The issue ends with a pair of strange “FAQ” pages featuring Ariel and Max Lord breaking the fourth wall with abandon, and it just makes me miss JLI.

Teen Titans #10 – 1/10

I’ve got a lot to say about how far Teen Titans has fallen as a franchise, but I think this issue nicely encapsulates most of them. The Teen Titans, which have been essentially a second family in most of their iconic versions, are at each other’s throats in this book, divided between the main team and the Wonder Girl-led “Elite,” bankrolled by Manchester Black. They’re out to apprehend Superboy, who’s accused of murder, except that the Elite contain Bar Tor, a known 30th century war criminal responsible for thousands of murders! He yells at Red Robin for leaving him behind on Takron-Galtos—after he was fairly convicted of mass murder!

There’s a lot of characters in this comic, such as an Indigo Lantern on the Elite, who are essentially blank slates. The main Titans spend most of the issue brutalizing each other, such as Superboy bringing Wonder Girl within an inch of drowning. Tim and Raven try to confront Black directly and force the information they need out of him, but Raven gets a vision of a secret prison that shuts her down, and Tim winds up alone against the Elite. This book is repetitive, ugly, and completely devoid of anything that should make a Teen Titans book. I don’t know who enjoys their TT like this, but it’s certainly not me.

Geek Speaks..Fiction by Erica Heflin

Erica Heflin, photograph copyright Erica Heflin
Erica Heflin, photograph copyright Erica Heflin

Today’s guest writer is Erica Heflin.

A classic geek, comic book and children’s fiction writer, Erica J. Heflin maintains a questionable degree of sanity in her household of small children and unruly animals. She finds working with geckos and snakes to be much easier than managing small people, though it’s easier to find superhero attire for the latter. Her comics works have been published by GrayHaven Comics, Inverse Press, Arcana, Bronco Ink, Pilot Studios, Alterna, and Zenescope Entertainment. She enjoys the freedom of small press, struggles with social phobias that make conventions as stressful as they are enjoyable, and identifies as bisexual.

Inner Minds

I’ve never been able to let go of the characters or the story, whether it be Thundercats or Star Trek or Marvel comics. And a lifetime of that love morphed into a career.

I was running on a beach.

ThunderCats, ho!!!

I was three years old and my mother ran breathlessly behind me. She was screaming my name, trying to get my attention, but I was no longer Erica Heflin. I was Cheetara and I needed to run.

I was five years old when I got so far into Cheetara’s head that the rest of the world didn’t matter. It might have been common for my age, but it was something that I never outgrew. It made me an oddity among the children who had once been my close friends.

By middle school, I was undoubtedly more interested in Star Trek (The Next Generation) than I was in dating or dances. A middle school science teacher had a Trek poster on her wall. Every day I’d stare at it and mentally work on the next story. It was fan fiction before the internet exploded with it, and I would carefully type on my old word processor and print out stories, but the internet was slow and the stories were just for me. I loved getting into the characters’ heads.

When high school rolled around, I was a self-realized nerd. I wore t-shirts in men’s large sizes, because that’s all anyone locally sold, and was likely all that was generally available. These shirts professed my love for comics, and in particular, the X-Men. That goofy cartoon with the exaggerated and often terrible accents and dialoguing encouraged me to dig into the back issue bins in the local comic shop, and soon I was reliving the lives of the all new, all different X-Men.

An X-Files t-shirt was the catalyst for many high school friendships, as the other local geeks and nerds loved the show as much as I did. The t-shirt provided an opportunity for dialogue among an otherwise sometimes shy or quiet community. These friends introduced me to a different form of storytelling. Tabletop roleplaying games.

At first it was all Marvel, complete with FASERIP, but secretly I began to play 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons. This was during a time when there was still a lot of stigma over the game and there were worries that satanic cults were using it to manipulate the minds of youths across the nation. For me, it simply served as another means of getting into a character’s head, directing them, and directly participating in the storytelling process. It’s a collaborative oral storytelling style that remains very powerful to this day.

I was truly hooked.

I’ve found other things that I am deeply passionate about. I love animals of all forms, with fur and scale alike. I adopt, rehabilitate, and work with many species. Like the story, it’s something I could never carve out of myself. A love of animals inhabits me as deeply. For a long while, I thought they would become my career. I’ve worked independently and at a zoo, and am deeply fulfilled by my work.

But about five years ago I realized that while my work was wonderful, I didn’t feel complete. My family and work life were enjoyable, but there were a thousand little voices in my head—characters in stories that I needed to tell.

It began with The Gathering, a small comic book anthology from GrayHaven Comics. I pitched a two page concept, was accepted, and then was introduced to artist George Amaru, who drew my story with incredible care and skill.

From there, the stories kept coming.

A character card from Flesh of White #2's Kickstarter page
A character card from Flesh of White #2’s Kickstarter page

I’ve managed to balance family life, animal care, and writing, with few stumbles. I’ve been fortunate to meet a great many talented writers and artists as the years have gone past, and worked with companies that make me incredible proud. At Alterna, The Black Hand features the story of a young woman with partial deafness whose black hand empowers her to slay the undead.

With Inverse Press artist Amanda Rachels and I tackle Flesh of White, the story of a mother protecting her son with albinism from the witch doctors in Tanzania. I also write the ongoing series Wonderland at Zenescope Entertainment, which follows Alice’s daughter’s twisted adventures on the other side of the looking glass.

The characters and their stories will never let go. And why would I want them to?

ConnectiCon Cosplay Parade

The ConnectiCon exhibit floor, just before opening Sunday. Photo by Corrina Lawson
The ConnectiCon exhibit floor, just before opening Sunday. Photo by Corrina Lawson

While the West Coast was busy with Comic Con in San Diego, I was busy taking my minions to ConnectiCon.

I’m never sure how quite to describe this con but, basically, it’s not so much a con that you attend to meet creators, though some of that happens. Instead, it’s primarily of social event where people go to hang out with others while attending cool panels, the Nerd Prom, and the Cosplay Death Match. Last year, Bill Nye won. This year, it was an awesome, on-stilts Jack Skellington.

But you can see the range of fandoms in these cosplay photos. Not gotten but wish I had: the Deadpool family (Dad, Mom, toddler son), the Wayne Parents (Thomas & Martha Wayne dressed up formally looking for Batman cosplayers to collapse in front of…), Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer, and too many video game/anime characters to count.

Here are some of the sights of ConnectiCon, from cosplayers to some of my favorite swag. Photos all by me (Corrina Lawson).

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ConnectiCon Highlight: Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek,
Nichelle Nichols signing autographs at ConnectiCon Saturday, photo by Corrina Lawson

When Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were announced as a guest at ConnectiCon, my local con, early this year, I was more than thrilled as Star Trek is my original fandom.

When Nichelle Nichols suffered what was described as a mild stroke in June, I wasn’t disappointed that she likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the show, only concerned for her health. I fully expected her to be a no-show at ConnectiCon.

But though she cancelled her public Q&A, she arrived as scheduled to sign autographs, and did so on both Saturday and Sunday, in what I believe was her first public appearance since the health incident. I watched her interact with fans for a while, and she was incredibly gracious and blew kisses at several people. I finally screwed up my courage to the sticking place and simply told her “thank you” as one of the last people in line on Sunday.

Thank you so much for coming to Connecticut, Ms. Nichols. We were very glad to have you.