Steampunk! ‘The Invention of E.J. Whitaker’

This month is Women’s History Month and what better time to talk about this really cool Kickstarter, The Invention of E.J. Whitaker by Shawnee´ and Shawnelle Gibbs, a sister team. This story caught my eye because it melds some of my favorite things: women inventors, diversity, comics, and women creators together in to one exciting project.

The tag line reads: “A steampunk comic adventure that follows one heroine’s epic journey to become a distinguished inventor at the turn of the 20th century.”

The Gibbs sisters graciously answered a few questions for GeekMom. Read on to see why I think this is such a fun project.

Continue reading Steampunk! ‘The Invention of E.J. Whitaker’

‘The Legend of Wonder Woman’ Chapter 18: Exclusive Preview

If you’re not reading The Legend of Wonder Woman, I urge you to start because it’s the best Wonder Woman origin story that I’ve ever read. (Issue #3 of the print series is on sale this Wednesday and, go, BUY IT.)

The digital chapters are well ahead of the print chapters, however. Check out this exclusive preview of chapter 18, which will go live on Thursday.

As the Duke’s legion of undead warriors attacks, Diana must decide whether to chase her answers of home, or use her new strengths to defend the Outsiders.
Writer & Penciller: Renae De Liz
Inker & Colorist: Ray Dillon

Cover Artists: De Liz and Dillon
The chapter will be available for download Thursday via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.

LOWW_18_D_SFCover[1]
Continue reading ‘The Legend of Wonder Woman’ Chapter 18: Exclusive Preview

Crying Bravo for ‘Cry Havoc’

Hanging on the window of my local comic store is a dark blue poster with the tagline, “It’s not about a lesbian werewolf going to war, except it kind of is.” The moment I saw it, Cry Havoc had my attention.

I’m still fairly new to reading comics, having only picked up my first book a couple years ago, so I am still trying to determine what it is that I like and what I do not. But, in my experience, if it is published by Image, I am likely to enjoy it, and this book is no exception.

Cry Havoc is like no book I’ve read before. Split into three different time periods – differentiated by color and colorist – the book tells the story of our protagonist Louise Canton from the beginning (blue), the middle (tan), and the end (red), jumping fluidly between the eras in each book. Though, regardless of how the scenes in the red part of the book are labeled, the twists at the end of each of the two books published show that something much deeper is going on than we have seen far and it only leaves me wanting more. Continue reading Crying Bravo for ‘Cry Havoc’

One Green Lantern Shines But Not the One With 50 Issues

Before we begin reviews of this weeks issues, I wanted to mention that Martian Manhunter: Vol. 1: The Epiphany is now available. This is one of the unexpectedly awesome books DC has published lately and it stands alone as a great SF invasion story.

Also of particular interest this week is Omega Men #9, another terrific issue spotlighting Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in what’s fast becoming a modern classic, so much so that there’s a scene this week that Ray compares favorably to the classic The Watchmen.

Martian manhunter, mr. biscuits
Martian Manhunter’s multiple selves. Panel copyright DC Comics

As for the more well-known Green Lantern? Hal Jordan’s series hits issue #50, a milestone for the new 52 reboot. Ray finds that the whole series was rewarding but I’m not even close to Hal Jordan’s biggest fan.

Plus, Swamp Thing, more Bat-kids, and Batgirl has a trippy issue that is my favorite in this run. And don’t forget to check out the bonus Batman ’66 and Scooby Doo reviews. Continue reading One Green Lantern Shines But Not the One With 50 Issues

Gather ‘Round, Padawans (Part Thirteen) — Kanan: The Last Padawan Redux Boogaloo

All I need to know in life I learned from Star Wars

Okay, not strictly speaking true, although the various Star Wars properties are serving to remind me of many important lessons I’ve picked up along the way many of which, to my mind, are those most important to pass along to my children.

I’ve tried to delve into different parts of the universe, the illustrative characters ranging from Ezra Bridger to Vader, the books from Obi-Wan & Anakin to those featuring the original trinity.

I find myself returning for the third time (and no walking carpets have torn my arms from my sockets to make it happen), however, to Kanan Jarrus (featured, for those following or catching up, in both part two and part six).

I guess Kanan has a lot to say, as do the writers responsible for bringing him to both screen and comic.

Property of Marvel Comics
Property of Marvel Comics

As a reader, I’m bummed that there’s only one issue left in Kanan: The Last Padawan (though I’m grateful it was extended to twelve from the originally intended five). Good news: Rebels has already been renewed for a third season, and I don’t see the journey ending anytime soon, so there are many more journeys on which we’ll be accompanying the Ghost and her crew.

I think anyone who’s been following Kanan in print will agree, however, there’s something very special about this glimpse into the past of one of the few Jedi to survive the execution of Order 66 and about the character himself who, by all rights, should have ended up a depressed hermit on some crappy border world or in thrall to the Sith.

Continue reading Gather ‘Round, Padawans (Part Thirteen) — Kanan: The Last Padawan Redux Boogaloo

‘Giant Days’: A Comic and My Own Personal Time Travel

Opening a good book is like sitting down to visit a good friend. Some of my best friends live in worlds I will never visit. In my wildest dreams, I sit down for coffee or a pint with Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Jane from Jane Eyre. I’ve come to know these fictional women as though they were real.

Opening Giant Days, in contrast, was like taking the TARDIS back through space and time to my favorite year in college and getting to spend time, unencumbered with my best college friend. Instead of meeting fictional characters whom I want to meet in real life, I felt as though my real life was being brought to me in the fiction.

Continue reading ‘Giant Days’: A Comic and My Own Personal Time Travel

First Second Press: 10 Years Of Great Graphic Novels

Image By Rebecca Angel

I honestly don’t remember how I came across American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Librarian friend? Bookstore display? I read it somewhere and bought a copy to show my family this…comic book that wasn’t a comic because it was a real book, just with all pictures, kinda like a comic book but thicker. A graphic novel. My family really liked it too. The artwork was cartoon, but the message was deep. My husband and son picked it for their book club. My daughter found out about other graphic novels in the library. I became a writer for GeekMom and contacted the publisher of American Born Chinese wondering what else they had.

First Second Press is celebrating its ten year anniversary as a publisher of excellent graphic novels, many of which I have reviewed for this blog. Here are some of my favorites over the years:

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew: Another winner from Yang that brings the past of comics and the future of graphic novels into one fantastic adventure story.

Zita the Spacegirl  by Ben Hatke: So fun, so funny, so full of girl power. And the follow-ups: The Return of Zita and The Legends of Zita.

Bake Sale by Sara Varon: This is one of those books that’s hard to describe when I recommend it. Saying it’s a kids book is like saying the Giving Tree is a kids book. It is, but… After reading it to my nieces, we had a huge discussion on the ending. (And this is when they were five and three!) I contacted Sara Varon telling her about the chat, and she wrote us back!

Giants Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre is currently on loan by my nine-year niece. We started it together and she is loving it. The heroine is great, but the side characters are what makes this one stand out.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks: Pick this up. Pick this up. Pick this up. My daughter and I chose it for our mother-daughter book club a few years back. There was quite a bit of skepticism since we had only read “real” books. For the graphic novel novices, I gave the advice to read it through once, and you’ll probably just be reading the words because that’s what you’re used to. Then go back and reread it, this time looking at the characters’ faces, the background art, all the little visual details that fill in the subtext and mood. It was a good book discussion because this is a GOOD BOOK!

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden: Can’t go without mentioning this authoritative work for anyone interested in making your own comics and graphic novels. I was asked to write a comic with someone and this book was my text.

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel: An adult book with art to savor. This one sticks with you. I heard Mark speak about the development of this novel, and afterwards he signed and drew on my copy.

Photo on 2-23-16 at 6.46 PM

Happy Birthday First Second!

‘Black’: A World With No White Superheroes

“In a world that already fears and hates them—what if only Black people had superpowers?”

That’s the tagline for a Kickstarter campaign for Black created by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, and Sarah Litt.

I’ve been pulling back from Kickstarter but I immediately backed this one. I wasn’t alone. The project met its funding goals very quickly but there are still a few days to go to back the comic and get in on this story.

Why am I so high on this project? I’ll let the creators tell you themselves, as I interviewed Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith III about their project this week.

Continue reading ‘Black’: A World With No White Superheroes

Let’s Doodle With Deadpool!

Well, Deadpool hit theaters recently with a big, violent, bloody, and hilarious bang, boom, slash, and splatter.

Yes, this comic book intended for grown ups, which has been around for 25 years by the way, is all of a sudden being “discovered” by fans of this new, profane sensation, causing juvenile giggles from young adults, and an endless Advil jar worth of headaches from parents like me who have to say “not ’til you’re older…much, much older.”

Continue reading Let’s Doodle With Deadpool!

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Twelve): Deadpool

This Padawans is not so much like the others in that, in this installment, we’re talking about a comic-based media property rather than source material documents. I like how academic that sounds, don’t you? Especially given the subject at hand.

Property of Fox Studios
Property of Fox Studios

It’s been a while since I saw a movie opening weekend. A movie that wasn’t Star Wars anyway. Spending more time than I already do away from the kids, ticket and babysitter investment… there are a lot of moving parts and it’s rare there’s a movie I want to see enough to make the effort to coordinate all of them. I’ve been waiting a long time for Deadpool, though, so I made an exception, really, really hoping it as going to be worth it.

It was. It was so worth it. Deadpool met and exceeded all raunchy, foul-mouthed, hilarious, bloody, anti-heroic expectations.

Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Twelve): Deadpool

Comics Club-4-Kidz (February): Kid Tested, Kid Approved

Comics Club-4-Kids is a monthly club exploring comic books for a variety of  age ranges. Since some families have multiple age ranges, Comics Club-4-Kidz helps parents by finding similar themes across varying content so that families can have conversations together. Our intent is to approach literary analysis and information literacy through the use of comics. Character, narrative structure, problem solving/plot development, and visual text were chosen as the focus discussion points to help mirror what our kids are learning in school. Our goal is to help kids in schools or kids homeschooling find new ways to approach literacy.

This month’s theme: gender.

This month’s comics:  Power UP, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, and Superman/Wonder Woman.

Continue reading Comics Club-4-Kidz (February): Kid Tested, Kid Approved

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 11): The Vision

It’s interesting, considering the medium of choice, that all the Gather ‘Round Padawans have, thus far, dealt with human characters. Superhumans (Spider-Woman), Inhumans (Ms. Marvel), and formerly human (The Spectre) perhaps but all, at their core, humans.

Time to remedy that.

This time, I’m delving into the world of synthezoids or, rather, one synthezoid in particular. One who wants nothing more than to be human. To be one of us. To feel what we feel, to form the bonds we form, to connect to that greater thing we apes have by privilege rather than by right (and which a good many of the ants in the colony really don’t deserve): the human race.

In this, the eleventh Padawans, I want to focus on The Vision. Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 11): The Vision

DC This Week: Bruce (Batman) Wayne is Back

It was an excellent week for female heroes at DC, with new issues of The Legend of Wonder Woman, the best thing to happen to the character in years, a new issue of DC Comics Bombshells, and a team-up story with Vixen and Black Canary that delves into Canary’s past and the mystery surrounding her missing mother.

Oh, yeah, and this guy named Bruce Wayne took back the mantle of Batman. Plus, Constantine continues to be a magnificent bastard and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have fun in the Batcave.

As always, we review all the DC titles published this week. I’ve put them in order my preference, rather than Ray’s ratings, so you may note that I’ve pushed the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal down a bit. Mind-controlled teammate fights are not my thing.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #2, creators: Renae De Liz and Ray Dillion

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Fantastic Story.

Ray: This reinvention of the Wonder Woman origin continues to be the best thing to happen to the character in years. It’s two oversized issues in, and we’re still on Themysrica, which is very refreshing. I’ve never seen more than a few pages devoted to the formative years of Diana’s character.

That’s not to say there’s not a lot of action and suspense in this issue, though. The first segment focuses on a young Diana’s training with the mercurial Aclippe, as Diana struggles under her teacher and demands to know where Aclippe’s hostility comes from. The answer lifts the curtain on a lot of the political intrigue in Themysrica, something that only continues after a time jump. Diana is about eighteen in the second segment, and danger is starting to build as forces begin to plot against Queen Hippolyta. Antiope and Melanippe, the high priestesses of Ares and Hades, are planning to oust the Queen in their favor, and make for compelling new villains – something Diana is very much in need of.

As Hippolyta faces this uprising, she prepares Diana for the possibility that she may need to step up as queen – something that will include petitioning the Gods for infinite life. The arrival of Steve Trevor on the island only complicates things, and gives the evil Antiope her opening to put Aclippe in a coma and move her plan to depose Hippolyta up. The classic elements of Diana’s origin are starting to slip in, but unlike so many other origin retellings, I don’t feel like I know where things are going. Highly recommended.

Corrina: Absolutely agreed, this is the Diana that Wonder Woman fans have been wanting for years. Now, I can only cross my fingers that it sells. However, while De Liz’s story is obviously original, I see echoes of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman: The Circle arc in some of the concepts, especially that of Amazons who resent Diana’s creation. But the best part of both stories is, like The Circle, it focuses on individual Amazons, instead of making them some faceless horde behind Queen Hippolyta. Continue reading DC This Week: Bruce (Batman) Wayne is Back

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 10): OBI-WAN & ANAKIN

All I need to know in life I learned from Star Wars.

Well, okay. Not all. If you’re still following the Gather ‘Round Padawans series (and if you have, or are, thank you), I’m hoping I’ve convinced you to, at the very least, consider the idea of comics as medium rather than as superhero sub-genre and that comics across age and subject spectrums have a lot to teach us about life, parenting, and everything.

If you’re new to the series, welcome. Warm up your brain salmons because this time, I’m taking a look at the Marvel’s new Obi-Wan & Anakin title and one honking, important parenting lesson to be found therein.

Property of Marvel Comics
Property of Marvel Comics

Take a close look at the text in the panels above. Then take a look at what Obi-Wan is doing. Whose lightsaber he has.

Do you see what I see? Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 10): OBI-WAN & ANAKIN

Revved Up for the ‘CARtoons Magazine’ Revival

Timing is an amazing thing.

Out of the blue, I started thinking about one of my favorite pastimes as a teenager;  following the “How to Draw” guides in my brother’s CARtoons Magazine.

These were pretty basic, albeit, but they still inspired me to learn about perspective, shading and structure. Plus I was able to create some dream cars I would never in a billion years be able to recreate in real life. At least not on my current budget.

I got the itch to try some of these out again, but sadly, I hadn’t seen a CARtoons in a store since my junior year in high school. As it turns out, CARtoons Magazine, a labor of love created by Pete Millar and Carl Kohler in 1959, went bye-bye in 1991 after had a pretty good run for more than 30 years.

Well, thanks be to Google, I was able to pull up some old images of these “How to Draw” pages when I ran across something that made me giggle out loud.

CARtoons is back in print! Continue reading Revved Up for the ‘CARtoons Magazine’ Revival

Why Does Manga Mean So Much to My Kid?

Two years ago, we dragged two daughters along to cover Las Cruces Anime Days at New Mexico State University. They enjoyed it, but granted none of us really knew that much about Manga or Anime.

This year, we took one daughter and one over-the-top Manga-loving enthusiast to that same event. My younger daughter still enjoyed herself, but my teen Manga-nut was in Hog Heaven. What a change two years make.

I was curious what created this Manga Monster. I mean, we’re a family of readers and self-admitted geeks, so she has learned much about books, comics, music and more from us. But, Manga? Honestly, I never got into it, beyond my Batmanga collection, a series based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and a fantastic collection of Matrix-inspired shorts, called Animatrix. Continue reading Why Does Manga Mean So Much to My Kid?

Black Canary’s Space-Time Sound Warp

Topping the list of our DC Comic reviews this week is an issue of Black Canary that utterly belongs to Annie Wu, as she draws a wordless battle of sound, a concept that reminded me of Superman singing the world back to life in Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, though this is more coherent than that meandering book. Still, being in the same room as Morrison is always good.

The stories starring lesser known DC heroes this week are also of high quality, including the soon-to-be-classic Omega Men, couple-crime fighting in Superman: Lois & Clark,  Dick Grayson back to his punny self in Grayson, and Vic reevaluating his life in Cyborg. For a change of pace, check out the Scooby-Doo review at the bottom.

Alas, with change coming to DC comics yet again, Ray and I will likely lose most of these books or have already lost them. (Lois & Clark! Sob!) Read them while they’re here because word is that the new focus will be only on the movie/television characters.

As always, Ray handles the plot recaps, giving me a chance to praise, snark or bury the issue.

Black Canary #7, Brenden Fletcher, writer, Annie Wu, artist.

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Fantastic.

Ray: What started out as a quirky, entertaining road trip/band comic giving us a new take on Black Canary has quickly morphed into one of the most mind-bending – and arguably important – comics in the DCU as we peel back the layers of the post-Convergence DCU. When we last left off, an epic battle of the bands between Black Canary and Bo Maeve ended with a sonic effect that resulted in Ditto and Kurt Lance disappearing into the ether. They were then found, with Kurt mysteriously 50 years older. This issue answers a lot of the mysteries surrounding Ditto, revealing her as a mysterious sound-based creature, from the same world as the mysterious monsters who have been chasing the band for the entire run. And to make matters worse, a giant beast made from the same material is now bearing down on their location. Annie Wu’s art is absolutely fantastic in this issue, and there’s several interesting segments that give us sneak peeks at possible alternate versions, pasts, and futures of Canary’s life.

Between Bo Maeve returning (and maybe taking a few more steps towards redemption), Amanda Waller still trying to claim Ditto, and the giant sound monster, things don’t slow down for a second in this issue. Eventually, the monster is defeated by two Canary cries, but Dinah winds up unconscious and rescued by our mysterious White Canary – who hints strongly that she may just be Dinah’s mother. Are a lot of the things people didn’t like about the post-Flashpoint Black Canary being subtly retconned away? I hope so – just in time for another reboot? Excellent issue that wraps up most of the main plots in a satisfying fashion while opening the door for some interesting future adventures. Bring it on.

Corrina: Time, space and dimensions are relative in this stand-off that is a showcase for Wu’s art. The final confrontation is wordless and it’s perfect. I didn’t think Wu could top herself but she does and if I ever find her at a Con, I am going to scrape all my savings together for a Black Canary commission. Continue reading Black Canary’s Space-Time Sound Warp

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’: A Lot of Potential & Some Potential Problems.

I have pretty much given up on the DC TV-verse. I didn’t want to. But now that we’ve had a taste of genuine rogue John Constantine, even one of my favorite characters of all time, Green Arrow, can’t keep me engaged. Mostly because our dear demonologist reminded me this Green Arrow is a whiny, dour, paternalistic, douchebag.

The Flash, which has kept itself alive on my watchlist as the goofier, younger sibling went *splat* with the midseason premiere. The reasons are legion and previously ranted about by myself and others.

See that Ray Palmer face? That's the one. Property of DC/WB/CW
See that Ray Palmer face? That’s the one. Property of DC/WB/CW

After the above debacles, I considered, even having been rather excited previously, skipping Legends of Tomorrow all together.

In the end, I watched.

And in the end I was pleased.

Mostly. Continue reading ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’: A Lot of Potential & Some Potential Problems.

Comics Club-4-Kidz (Monthly): Kid Tested, Kid Approved Comics

Comics Club-4-Kids is a monthly club that explores comic books geared towards kids, of various age ranges. A couple of GeekMoms test different comic books on their own geeky kids. However, as geek moms, our intent is to use comic books as a source for exploring concepts used in studying classic literature in schools. Because schools need more comic books.

This month’s theme: morality.

Each comic book is broken into four sections: character, narrative structure, problem solving/plot development, visual text. Sample questions are provided to help parents, teachers, homeschool parents, or comic book enthusiasts to help their littles or bigs to learn critical thinking skills while exploring fun forms of literature: comic books.

This month’s comics: Tiny Titans—Return to the Treehouse (geared towards Littles), and Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 023 (geared towards Bigs).

Continue reading Comics Club-4-Kidz (Monthly): Kid Tested, Kid Approved Comics

Poison Ivy: Plant, Human Or Something Else?

Last week, I talked about some of the books that star the lesser-known DC characters need more love. That’s even more evident this week, as Martian Manhunter, Titans Hunt, Poison Ivy, Secret Six and Doctor Fate come out this week with good issues. Yet Ivy is only a miniseries, Doctor Fate’s sales have bottomed out and the rest aren’t doing the sales that their quality indicates they should.

Then I read that the seventh issue of my fangirl favorite, Titans Hunt, will be written by Scott Lobdell, who wrote the awful Doomed and made a mess of the regular Teen Titans title. Worse, it appears the book will be ending the month after. Nooo…..

Which brings me to why readers may not be buying these quality books: if their cancelation is inevitable, why get invested in these characters? A cynical way to look at it but given that DC has a habit of using its lesser-known characters as cannon fodder in crossovers, understandable. But, I have to say, ya’ll are missing great stories.

As always, I’m joined in the recaps by Ray Goldfied, where we have a serious disagreement about an issue of Batman that includes a big turning point in the life of the new Bruce Wayne.

Happy comic reading!

Page 4 of Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics
Page 4 of Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1, written by Amy Chu, pencils by Clay Mann, inks by Seth Mann

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Everyone loves the Joker most of Batman’s villains but I’ve always the female antagonists more interesting, starting with Catwoman. However, Poison Ivy is in a class by herself, a villain motivated not by money or power but by scientific curiosity and her strange ability to commune with plants. She’s creepy and I had no idea if she would make a good protagonist. But she does, mainly because all her many facets are on display in this book, from her fascination with science to her boredom with humanity and, even, surprisingly, her relationship with Harley Quinn.

I’d not expected I’d be so intrigued but I am. That bodes well for this miniseries.

Ray: I’m a sucker for stories about villains trying to turn over a new leaf. They can be dark, like Magneto’s accounting for his violent past in Cullen Bunn’s run, or lighthearted like Riddler’s Detective agency in Paul Dini’s books. This new Poison Ivy miniseries seems to fall right in the middle of that spectrum, and delivers an entertaining story in the process. When we open, Ivy and a friend of hers are in Africa to obtain a rare specimen of an ancient long-lived plant, only to be accosted by local soldiers. Ivy makes short work of them and the plant returns safely to her new base, the Gotham Botanical Gardens, where she works as a scientist under her mentor, Dr. Luisa Cruz.

Cover to Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics
Cover to Poison Ivy, image copyright DC Comics

The Gotham Academy kids drop by for a tour, and we see Ivy settling into her new role as a research scientist – until a more noticeable visitor shows up. It’s Harley Quinn, who isn’t quite sure how she feels about her girlfriend’s new direction in life. I felt like anything here involving Harley was probably the weak link. I enjoy their banter and it’s always fun to see them beat up goons together, but the conflict felt very forced. Harley’s done the secret identity/normal job thing in her solo title – in fact, it’s the main thrust of her book – so her questioning of Ivy’s decision to go back to her old line of work was weird. And Ivy throwing Joker in Harley’s face just felt like a way to force a breakup. But Amy Chu has a great voice for Ivy, and does the perfect balance of smart and sinister. The issue ends with a sudden death that sets up an new miniseries involving the mysterious genetically engineered plants that Ivy’s been working on. There’s a few rough edges here, but it feels in line with the stronger work done on Poison Ivy, and I’m glad to see her finally get her spotlight.

Titans Hunt #4, Dan Abnett, writer, Stephen Segovia, pencils, Art Thibert, inks, Scott McDaniel, adult coloring book variant cover.

Corrina: My Titans!

Ray: 7.5/10

Corrina: I can’t separate my inner fangirl from my reviewer self with this one, so..::My Titans, SQUEE:: Continue reading Poison Ivy: Plant, Human Or Something Else?

“Comics” Doesn’t Always Equal Kid Friendly. And That’s Okay.

(Herein lies some disturbing imagery. It is intended to make a point. I tried to keep the grosser stuff to comic panels that aren’t terribly realistic and toward the bottom. You have been warned.)

Continue reading “Comics” Doesn’t Always Equal Kid Friendly. And That’s Okay.

Literary Empathy, or How Spider-Woman Made Me Okay With Men Who Write Women

In recent years, some of my favorite female heroes have found themselves with their own titles. Women such as Princess Leia, Black Widow, and Spider-Woman leap off the page showing that women are just as hard core as their male counterparts. In every single one of these cases, I have only one slight disappointment and this is that the author was male. Every time, despite my excitement and adoration of the character and story, my heart sank a bit. Why, I asked myself, aren’t there women writing our stories? These are our heroes. Men have enough heroes of their own. Why can’t they stick to writing their heroes and give us a chance to write our own?

On the most logical level, I hate myself for asking these questions. I am a woman who defines herself more in terms of gender equality than the “women for women” feminism. These concerns are therefore causing an existential crisis. This gut reaction makes me feel sexist because I question men’s ability to write the female experience.

Continue reading Literary Empathy, or How Spider-Woman Made Me Okay With Men Who Write Women

Becoming My Own Superhero

Admittedly, I’ve come late to the superhero game. I didn’t really, truly get into The Avengers until the Marvel movie universe made everyone love superheroes (admit it: Captain America is dreamy). Growing up, I had a general awareness of Batman, Superman, and all the other biggies, and I do remember liking Superfriends (I always very specifically liked Jayna of the Wonder Twins). But in general, that whole world just wasn’t my thing. Continue reading Becoming My Own Superhero

The DC Comics You Should Be Reading

Each week that we recap the latest offerings from DC Comics, we invariably gush over a B-list book or character that deserves a much wider readership. That’s true this week too, as Constantine: The Hellblazer, Gotham Academy, and Starfire all are given high marks but all except Starfire are at the back of the pack in sales.

In print, Deathstroke‘s ‘meh’ title is selling more than Grayson, DC: Bombshells, Black Canary and We Are Robin. Martian Manhunter, Secret Six, Doctor Fate and Omega Men are bottom sellers. Gotham Academy, one of the freshest and most interesting ideas in the Batman mythos in ages, is selling only 16,000 print copies a week, which boggles my mind.

Either regular DC readers are unwilling to read anything even slightly  different than their basic superhero story, non-DC readers haven’t gotten the word that these non-flagship titles are inventive and fascinating, or people are buying a bunch of them digitally and, hence, the sales aren’t reflected in print.

It could be a combination of all three but I hope it’s the last reason because that means more people than it seems are reading the lower-selling print books. (Comixology.com doesn’t release exact sales numbers.) But, otherwise, some of my favorite books are going to be canceled. No! If you haven’t tried any of the above, please give them a shot.

(These figures are from November 2015, with a few sales figures taken from the October 2015 rundown. Let’s hope, at least, that the Robin War crossover spurred some interest in the lower selling Bat-books.

Now back to our regularly scheduled reviews….

Constantine: The Hellblazer #8 – Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV, writers, Riley Rossmo, finishes and cover, Brian Level, breakdowns

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Buy It!

Ray: This book is absolutely at its best when it’s delving into the dark and creepy underworld of the DCU and balancing it with some twisted humor. When we last left off, Papa Midnite had Constantine’s new flame Oliver held hostage in order to get his attention. Turns out Midnite’s dark magic club has been taken over by some corrupt demons who stole it from under him, and he needs Constantine’s help to get it back. To “motivate” Constantine, he has his Basilisk bite Oliver, necessitating an antidote that can only be found in the Club. Although I don’t particularly like a same-sex rehash of the same old “love interest in peril” spotlight, one scene where Oliver refuses to take the Basilisk’s bait and condemn Constantine was good.

However, the issue really takes off when the two anti-heroes break into the Midnight Club. Rossmo is SO good at creating elaborate, creepy settings, and with Constantine and Midnight under glamours as demons, they’re able to have the run of the place. I loved how Constantine was able to figure out a near-impossible problem using his street-wise guile – the building is built over a non-magical shell, so it’s possible to bypass the dangerous magical traps by…taking the stairs. And on a personal note, I am thrilled to see one of my favorite ’90s villains, the pompadoured demon Neron, back in a major role. This feels like a fascinating horror twist on Ocean’s 11, and I can’t wait to see how the two reluctant allies get out of this. This is one of DC’s most underrated books.

The MIdnight Club, image copyright DC Comics
The MIdnight Club, image copyright DC Comics

Corrina: I spent a good five minutes examining all the artwork in the Midnight Club, hoping to spot easter eggs. Alas, I’m not steeped enough in Constantine’s mythology to have recognized any but I bet there are some in there. The story also, as Ray says, highlights John’s intelligence and outside-the-box thinking. He’s human, he’s sort of a demon, and he belongs in neither place. His disguise as a fun-loving demon with an agenda is a good metaphor for Constantine himself and the beauty of the character is that he knows this himself. Continue reading The DC Comics You Should Be Reading

The Legend of Wonder Woman: The Story We Need

If you read these reviews each week, you’ve likely noticed that Ray and myself shake our heads whenever we get to the regular Wonder Woman title. The quality of it verges from ‘meh’ to ‘awful.’

Even the quality story previous to the current creative team,  an imaginative, mythic-fueled story by Brian Azzarello and drawn magnificently by Cliff Chiang wasn’t one I could read, given that it morphed the Amazons into killers who preyed on unwitting men in passing ships, killed them, and sold the male children into slavery to a god. If Wonder Woman is supposed to show the best of humanity, how does she learn any ideals when being raised by flat-out murderers? This tale sidelined Wonder Woman’s relationship with her mother, Hippolyta, and instead gave her “daddy issues” by making her the daughter of Zeus, rather than the embodiment of Hippolyta and the Amazons’ hopes and dreams for children.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1, written and drawn by Renae De Liz, has everything I could want from a Wonder Woman title. I’m sorry I missed the digital-first chapters and I’m only reading it for the first time now but part of me is not sorry because the art and the colors pop beautifully in print. It’s a work that I want to own, not to have live in my computer screen.

This series reinvents the Amazon and Princess Diana and, yet, the female-oriented society of hope and peace is intact. The story provides little Diana with intelligence and compassion as well the promise of warrior skills. It’s all detailed beautifully without any of the male gaze oriented-art featured in the main Wonder Woman title. Little Princess Diana who longs to be more than she is is a hero to root for, and a story to root for. It reminds me, in a good way, of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman: The Circle, which also focused on Amazon society and how the need and love of children affect them.

As Ray says in the full review below, “after one issue, this has the chance to be one of the all-time classic DC origin stories.”

However, be warned, spoilers after the cut!
Continue reading The Legend of Wonder Woman: The Story We Need

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 9): Spider-Woman

Property of Marvel Comics
Property of Marvel Comics

Jessica Drew had no intention of ever being a mother.

During Secret Wars she got pregnant.

Jessica isn’t revealing the father’s identity, not even to her best friend, Carol Danvers. She reminds the rest of the crew it’s none of their damn business when Tony Stark makes a not-so-polite inquiry; Jess zaps him and dumps her food over his head. If you’ve ever been eight months pregnant, you know how pissed a girl has to be to give up her dinner at that stage. Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 9): Spider-Woman

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Eight): Ms. Marvel II

Who among us has never dreamed of being a superhero? If you clicked the link to this article, I imagine you have done so at least once in your life. I have done so many a time. I am thirty-seven and I still do it. I even wrote a superhero novel because if I can’t do it, my imaginary friends can.

When you envision yourself as part of the cape and tights brigade, are you being you or are you someone else? In fantasy land, I’m usually at least three inches taller and definitely fifty pounds thinner, I have ringlets instead of barely tamable frizz, a much cuter nose, and I can run in heels while brandishing my rapier wit. And a katana.

Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Eight): Ms. Marvel II

Women Lead This Week’s DC Comics

Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights.

It occurs to me that this week’s favorites feature women. Cassandra Cain is spotlighted in Batman and Robin: Eternal, Lois is the co-lead in Superman: Lois & Clark, and Black Canary, of course. Sadly, Superman/Wonder Woman and the Wonder Woman title suffer by comparison. On the good side, Plastic Man gets an excellent story that highlights just how dangerous he can be.

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR TODAY’S COMICS BELOW.

Note: We’ve updated the list to include Omega Men, Doctor Fate, Harley Quinn/Power Girl, and Superman/Wonder Woman.

The Omega Men #7 – written by Tom King, art by Barnaby Bagenda

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: I remain a staunch supporter of this inventive series.

Ray: One of the most straight-forward issues of this series, it made me realize there’s a perfect parallel for what this book is trying to be – it’s Star Wars by way of Quentin Tarantino. Less violent than he often is, but that same sort of dirty, suspenseful thriller set against the backdrop of another genre. The world that King and Bagenda create manages to be distinctly alien, but full of familiar things that show that no matter how far the cast travels, some things never change. This issue turns the focus on Kyle Rayner and Princess Kalista, who have formed a tight bond since they both wound up as captives of the Omega Men – with Kyle, of course, not knowing that Kalista is the mastermind of the entire group. I’m a bit iffy on Kyle being seemingly okay with Kalista’s main problem-solving technique being stabbing people to death, but I suppose being a space captive changes your view on things. This issue finds them planning to make an escape from the planet on a smuggler’s vessel, despite being the most wanted faces in the galaxy. After trading a family heirloom of Kyle’s for passage to a shady smuggler (and reminding the audience that Kyle’s latino heritage is still continuity!), they pass through an alien version of the TSA that makes ours look friendly, only for Kyle to be the victim of a rather nasty double-cross by his “team”. Another great issue, and King manages to work in some cool Grayson crossover elements in the process. This book was never going to sell well in this market, but with DC allowing it to reach its conclusion, I suspect it’ll do well in collections for a long time.

Corrina: I’ve always said this should have been an original graphic novel rather than a series because every issue builds perfectly on what has gone before. To describe it as intricate wouldn’t be doing the plot justice. It mixes complicated politics with similarly complicated characters on all sides of this rebellion.

That’s why I disagree with Ray’s comparison to Tarantino. His movies are many things but his characters never feel real to me, only over-the-top people put in over-the-top situations. The Omega Men, despite their alienn-ess, feel all too human. This is basically a look inside a terrorist organization that passes no judgment on their cause but pulls apart their methods.  I’m glad to see the focus spring back to Kyle this issue. We’ll see what he becomes by the end of the series.

Once this is in trade, it’ll be talked about in the same breath as Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and the other inventive, experimental comics that have passed the test of time. Continue reading Women Lead This Week’s DC Comics

Try These DC Adult Coloring Book Variant Covers!

DC Comics, in a nod to the adult coloring book craze, is producing four variant covers next week that can become your own personal coloring project.

I’ve already received the Green Lantern variant. It’s a high-quality paper and it’s placed over the regular comic cover, so no worries about tearing the cover off and wrecking the comic.

Here’s the other three: Green Arrow, Superman: Action Comics, and Detective. DC’s press release encouraged printing out of the covers, so you don’t have to wait until next week to get started. Download, print, and have at it.

Note: the comics include the front and back covers, so that’s an incentive to buy the actual book. Continue reading Try These DC Adult Coloring Book Variant Covers!

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Seven): Sam Wilson: Captain America

Captain America. The quintessential all-American hero. Nice Brooklyn boy willing to subject his body to medical experimentation to win the opportunity to fight for the little guy, freedom, and your grandma. Always has been. Still is even though someone else has taken up the title, the mantle, and the shield.

Steve’s thoughts on his chosen successor? “When I handed that shield over to Sam, it didn’t come with a rule book. I trust him to do what he thinks is best for our country.”

A large sector of the population, however, isn’t willing to accept the new Cap as “their” Cap despite Steve’s endorsement. Why? A questionable past? Does he booze it up with Stark? Go on shooting rampages? Run people down with his car on the sidewalk in Vegas? Sell drugs? Do drugs? Embezzle SHIELD funds? Play his music too loud? Kick puppies?

Nope.

Sam Wilson is daring, daring, to Cap while African American.

Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Seven): Sam Wilson: Captain America