GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — November 6th, 2013

Comic Books GeekMom
Wonder Woman Hiketeia  Image: DC Comics
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia © DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. We have a wide variety of reviews this week including Wonder Woman: The HiketeiaBandette, Takio, Black Orchid, Django Unchained: The Graphic Novel and several DC Comics coming out today, including Forever Evil #3, Earth-2 #17, and Batman/Detective Comics #25.

Dakster Sullivan — Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by, Greg Rucka (author) and J.G Jones (artist)

When it comes to comic books, I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover and this cover had me at Batman. I don’t know what it is about Diana and Bruce, but I love seeing them face off against each other.

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia starts off a bit confusing and made me worry I missed something in a previous volume. It didn’t take long before that feeling faded and I realized I was smack in the beginning of a great story.

The story begins with Diana explaining the ancient ritual of the Hiketeia: a ritual of protection in exchange for being a personal slave.

Enter Danielle Wellys: a young woman in Gotham who is on the run for crimes worthy of Batman’s attention. We all know how this ends, except, it actually doesn’t. Danielle gets away and ends up on Diana’s doorstep, performing the Hiketeia ritual. Unaware of Danielle’s crimes, Diana accepts and takes her under her protection–a decision that will lead to a conflict with Batman later on.

The conflict between Batman and Wonder Woman is interesting to read, because they’re on different sides of the coin with this one. I felt for Batman’s role as the one to bring Danielle in for justice, while also feeling for Diana’s role as her protector. It was hard not to feel for Danielle as well, who as it turns out, is guilty of her crimes, but after reading her story, I can’t say that the victims were all that innocent, either.

Word of warning: Since Batman plays a nice sized role in this story, you can bet there will be some darkness. Chances of this ending happily are slim to none. Keep that in mind if you have a hard time with sex, violence, or otherwise unhappy endings.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Lisa Tate — Takio by Brian Michael Bendis (Author), Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator)

Takio Issue #4
Takio Issue #4

As many incredible writers as there are in the comic book world, Brian Michael Bendis is always at the top of my list. His knack for creating pure conversational dialogue is amazing and his storytelling prowess is incredible…unfortunately most of it isn’t exactly something I want to share with my daughters (Powers, anyone?).

This is why his all ages comic Takio (Icon Comics) with illustrations by frequent collaborator Michael Avon Oeming, is a favorite title in our home.

Now its fourth issue, Takio is the story of two sisters who gain superpowers when their friend’s father sets of an accident in his lab has everything I want my daughter to appreciate from Bendis — humor, action, storytelling and completely unique characters — without those elements of his I would rather her not yet see.

There certainly won’t be any f-bombs, heads or bodices exploding in this series, but both 11-year-olds and 40-year-olds will cheer on these pair of young heroines snickering all the way.

The fact that the main characters are girls whose age difference is similar to my own daughters is a bonus. The first four issues of this book complete a story arc, so now is a good time to catch up on some back issues.

Helen Barker– Black Orchid Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Black Orchid  Image: NeilGaiman.comI have to admit that I am not a reader of comics, and I don’t really do superhero stories either. However, many of my fellow GeekMoms are really interested in this genre, so when I saw a copy of Black Orchid by my favorite author Neil Gaiman in the library, I had to take a peek.

Would this be the gateway to a new comic and graphic novel addiction?

Black Orchid’s story is one of mystery and self discovery. She sets out to find out more about her origins and to understand why she shares the memories of Susan Linden. Ultimately she needs to find the place where she belongs and find a path through the violence which surrounds her.

The first thing that struck me about the book was McKean’s rich cinematic illustrations. They’re almost like the storyboard for a film, and while I was reading I could imagine what would be happening in a live action version of the story. Although I am familiar with McKean’s later collaborations with Gaiman, including the book and film MirrorMask , I wasn’t expecting the artwork to grab me quite so strongly. The colours are generally muted and quiet, highlighted by deep splashes of blood or dappled sunlight. Black Orchid herself is a purple blossom, standing out amongst the darkness.

Gaiman’s story slowly unravels the mysteries of Black Orchid’s past, giving us glimpses of Susan’s life too. Some of the dialogue has become somewhat dated, but the tension of the story still remains, particularly when Black Orchid is being hunted in the rainforest.

The deluxe edition also includes early drafts of the story and artwork, including letters and Gaiman’s handwritten notes. I always enjoy seeing how authors and illustrators develop their ideas, and this is especially interesting as they were working with an established character.

This was a really positive introduction to the genre for me as I hadn’t expected to enjoy the book as much as I did. I’ll be checking out the graphic novel section of the library more carefully in the future!

Kay Moore-Bandette – Vol. 1 by Paul Tobin (writer) and Colleen Cover (artist)

bandetteEvery time I saw the cover art for an issue of Bandette, the carefree style and bright colors caught my attention and eventually I could no longer resist. While I attempted to exercise free will, the series was nominated for four Eisner awards, winning Best Digital Comic. So don’t depend on my opinion–the luminaries of the industry recommend Bandette to you as well. And this is one of those satisfying comics where the cover truly reflects the contents: both style and imagery match what is inside the issues (or chapters, for this hardcover edition collecting issues 1-5).

Bandette is a young woman who both adventures as a cat burglar and protects a tribe of street urchins, beatniks, and free spirits. Bandette and her band show each other absolute trust; it’s enjoyable in these early issues and in keeping with the carefree mood of this story, but I wonder if such a fluffy air can be maintained over a long run. It appears that Bandette’s strikes are against those who deserve to lost their treasures; perhaps some complications in this area will develop later in the series. At this early stage, all of her “victims” are bad guys, simplifying the moral situation.

I enjoyed the artful cadence of Bandette’s speech–non-colloquial just enough to carry a definite French imprint without any obnoxious accent. She tangles with several “opponents” throughout these issues, but her method of engaging with them is, once again, charming. Bandette is brash, charming, smart, brave, and analytical, and she always has a bon mot. Like a crooked smile, the escapades always end with an upward turn. I found Bandette’s excursions into the Parisian shadows and treasuries a refreshing change of pace from darker comic perspectives. I agree with the recommendation for readers aged eight and above.

This volume also includes extras, including a series of short stories written by Paul Tobin with guest illustrators, a script excerpt and an art tutorial. Bandette is published by Dark Horse, $14.99.

Corrina–Django Unchained: The Graphic Novel by Reginald Hudlin (adapting the film) and R.M. Guera, Jason LaTour, Denys Cowan, DaniJel Zezelj, and John Floyd (artists).

DC Comics this week: Batman/Detective Comics #25 (Zero Year) by John Layman (writer) and Jason Fabok (artist); Forever Evil #3 by Geoff Johns (writer) and David Finch and Richard Friend (artists); Earth-2 #17 by Tom Taylor (writer) and Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott (artists).

My eldest son, Joseph, (18) is a big Quentin Tarantino fan, so I handed the Django Uchained graphic adaptation over to him for review.

Joseph: Whenever Quentin Tarantino makes a movie, he never ceases to surprise me with his insanity but I also always recognize his recurring themes. Django Unchained is one of his greatest works, telling a gloriously visceral and satisfying story about a former slave teaming up with a friendly bounty hunter to rescue his still-enslaved wife. The move had me  recoiling with horror and roaring with laughter at different times.

That’s the movie, though. The graphic novel adaptation is pretty much the same, minus the moving pictures and Sam Jackson stealing every scene he’s in. There are obviously some differences though, the biggest being this was his first draft of the movie, as Tarantino points out in the forward. That means there are a few changes in the story, which I found fascinating.

Some scenes and dialogue are moved around and or downright absent from the movie. The majority of these changes made sense and there were a couple exchanges I wish had remained, so I was glad to experience them in some form.  However, I can understand why most of the scenes were cut or changed. None of these scenes felt out of place but some of them were harder to seamlessly integrate into a film, such as Broomhilda’s back story. This is fun to read in the graphic novel but it would be a long diversion for a movie.

The movie also has scenes not in the book, so between additions and deletions, this  adaptation is about as long as the movie itself. (Or shorter, depending on how fast you read.)

I can’t omit mentioning the art, which is top-notch, per Vertigo’s usual standards. The artists capture the characters well, and blending the environments to match the spaghetti western style of the tale. There is excellent use of the shadows, without ever being distracting from the story or dialogue.

Overall, if you loved the movie, you’ll definitely enjoy the book, and if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll love either if you’re into spaghetti westerns or Quentin Tarantino at his finest.

I think even Willard and his wife can agree that it was executed pretty well.

Detective-Comics-25-Cover_dsBack to Corrina:

The first book I picked up in the review issues DC sent me was Detective #25 because, well, I love Jim Gordon, and the issue promised to be a whole story of Jim Gordon being awesome. Which it was, which made me very happy. It’s ostensibly a tale of how Gordon developed the Bat-signal during the first year Batman was active, but that’s a small part of Gordon taking on police corruption, and by that it seems like every other cop on the force, save one. Batman does make an appearance, and I love how he’s intergrated. Fabok’s art is as moody and atmospheric as one could hope for Gotham, in particular during a scene in which Gordon falls from a bridge.

I read Forever Evil #3 and Earth-2 #17 back-to-back and that was a mistake because I started confusing their plotlines. Both feature an evil version of Superman and both feature a ragtag group of heroes (and some villains) trying to regroup after a devastating defeat. They both even have nearly-dead humans being reborn as half-machine.

When I interviewed Nicola Scott at New York Comic Con, she said Earth-2 is far more messed up than the current DC Earth, but after reading Forever Evil, they seem about equally dark to me. The alternate Earth at least seems to have heroes as its guardians, where the regular DC Earth is down to villains for its defense against the Crime Syndicate, alternate universe evil versions of the Justice League. (But not from the Earth-2 universe.)

That said, Earth-2 was a far better story to read because events seemed to unfold quickly. Possessed Superman attacks, heroes scatter, a Batman (we don’t know who he is yet, though Bruce Wayne is dead on this world) sneaks into a secret government holding tank for supers to set them free and Lois Lane is back. Er, sort of. Did I mention the whole half-machine thing?  This is Taylor’s first issue and it’s solid.

Forever Evil has Black Adam fighting Ultraman, and Luthor giving orders to Bizarro and Batman (Bruce Wayne this time) finally realizing the Syndicate is holding Dick Grayson hostage. Oh, and Victor Stone (Cyborg) is being reborn. Captain Cold literally loses his shirt too. Nothing feels very significant. The miniseries has four more issues to go and it’s moving at a slow pace.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Action Comics #25
All-Star Western Vol. 3 The Black Diamond Probability TP
Batman Black And White #3 (Of 6)
Batman Night Of The Owls TP GM
Batman Superman #5 GM
Batwing #25
DC Comics Essentials Justice League #1
Detective Comics #25
Django Unchained HC
Earth 2 #17
Forever Evil #3 (Of 7) GM
Fraction TP (New Edition)
Green Arrow #25
Green Lantern #25 GM
Hinterkind #2
Judas Coin TP
Justice League Of America Vol. 1 World’s Most Dangerous HC
MAD Magazine #524
Movement #6
Sandman Omnibus Vol. 2 HC
Scooby-Doo Where Are You #39 KF10
Stormwatch #25
Superman Unchained #4
Swamp Thing #25
Trillium #4 (Of 8)
Trinity Of Sin The Phantom Stranger #13 GM
Amazing X-Men #1
Avengers West Coast Avengers Omnibus Vol. 2 HC
Captain America #13
Captain Marvel #17 GM
Cataclysm The Ultimates’ Last Stand #1 (Of 5)
Daredevil Dark Nights #6 (Of 8)
Emerald City Of Oz #4 (Of 5)
Fantomex MAX #2 (Of 4)
Hawkeye Vol. 1 HC GM
Iron Man #18
Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe #1 (Of 4)
Marvel Firsts The 1980s Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Knights Spider-Man #2 (Of 5)
Marvel Universe Hulk Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. #2 (Of 4)
Marvel’s Captain America The First Avenger Adaptation #1 (Of 2)
Marvel’s Thor The Dark World The Art Of The Movie Slipcase HC
Mighty Avengers #3
Oz Road To Oz TP GM
Painkiller Jane The Price Of Freedom #1 (Of 4)
S.H.I.E.L.D. Origins TP
Thanos Redemption TP
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 2 Broken HC (was ‘Lost In Limbo’)
X-Men Legacy #19
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Comics About Cartoonists HC
Crow Midnight Legends Vol. 5 Resurrection TP
Danger Girl G.I. JOE HC (Red Label Edition)
Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time #10 (Of 12)
Doctor Who Series 3 Vol. 3 Sky Jacks TP
G.I. JOE The Cobra Files #8
G.I. JOE The Complete Collection Vol. 1 HC
Ghostbusters #9
Jeff Smith’s Bone The Great Cow Race Artist’s Edition HC
Judge Dredd Classics #5
My Little Pony Portfolio GM
My Little Pony The Return Of Queen Chrysalis HC GM
Star Trek Vol. 1 Where No Man Has Gone Before HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21
Transformers Dark Cybertron #1
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #1 (Hundred Penny Press Edition)
Baltimore The Infernal Train #3 (Of 3)
Catalyst Comix #5 (Of 9)
Domo And Friends In Bobsled Ornament
Domo Astronaut Ornament
Domo Snowboarding Ornament
Grindhouse Doors Open At Midnight #2 (Of 8)
Marvel Classic Character X-Men #2 Angel
Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories #6
Occultist #2 (Of 5)
Plants Vs Zombies Lawnmageddon HC
Star Wars #3 (Of 8)(Lucas Draft) GM

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading / KF10 = Kid-Friendly for 10-years old and younger

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