Comic Book Power Rankings – August 2015

Nobody here at Hush Comics loves sports metrics more than I do. A die-hard NBA fan, I frequently rank players, teams and track stats every night to see who I should be picking up on the waiver wire (a term I know, but still do not understand at all) in our fantasy basketball league. It’s not really to be the best, but largely because I love the processes behind it; I love spreadsheets and systemic processes in how I arrive at these decisions. I even made a House of Quality together in order to break down which qualities I value in comic book series. This was all inspired by the creation of our Best of 2014 Comic Books collection of articles (which you should check out! A lot of hard work from our team went into those articles), when I realized that we had not been keeping track of which books were the best throughout the year.

Below is a list of what I consider the Top 20 comic books of the previous month. The opinions of these rankings is solely mine (unless noted), although they are influenced by the weekly review grades that our team doles out. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of the comic book industry, and I admittedly can’t read every book out there, but as long as I have this awesome platform to force my opinion on readers, why not use it? As always, we LOVE sparking conversations about the things we love, or even the things we don’t, so commentary is encouraged!

Rank Book Title Publisher Issues In Previous Movement
1 Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra Marvel 1
  He’s just a normal family guy, trying to cut it in the blue collar goon industry. Trying to place the normal within the insanity that is Battle World creates comedy gold.
2 Prez DC 3
  As far as political satires go, Prez is hands down the funniest, and is so hyperbolic that the fact that it’s relatable at all is appalling. Root for the little guy in one of DC’s rare non-cape books.
3 Rasputin Image 8
  Rasputin is my favorite comic at the moment. So far it’s the only book that’s compelled me to send fan mail. It’s a well written narrative, beautifully drawn, and spectacularly colored. I get something out if every issue I read and feel satisfied. Totally in love with this series. – Jené
4 Ms. Marvel Marvel 17
  Although Kamala briefly got caught in the web that is Secret Wars, her last issue, a heart-warming team up with Captain Marvel herself gave this book a special place on my shelf.
5 The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Marvel 8
  Three of the top five books are led by young women. Coincidence? Hell no! Squirrel Girl is hilarious and relatable – which says a lot since… ya know, she’s a squirrel.
6 TMNT IDW 49
  Not even shell-shock could stop Donnie! Things are getting heavy as a battle royale contest between the turtles and Foot knock down the door of the upcoming #50 spectacular.
7 Justice League DC 43 5 -2
  This is the best JL story since Forever Evil, and the most desparate time we’ve seen the team in of all New52. Geoff Johns continues to write an amazing book.
8 Batman DC 43 2 -6
  This is not the same book we read with Endgame. Bruce is in identity crisis mode and Gordon has taken over as Batman. Wacky story aside, Snyder/Capullo produce.
9 We Stand On Guard Image 3
  With the right creative team, even Canadians can be interesting. Brian K Vaughan’s new title makes you hate America more effectively than Donald Trump’s presidential run.
10 Bizarro DC 3
  Bizarro no am good book. Bizarro am very bad book. Book no am funny. Art is very ugly. Bizarro very normal, and Jimmy Olson (Bizarro’s worstest enemy) never wear disguises. Bizarro no am have hijinks. – Montgomery
11 Superman DC 43 8 -3
  We finally learned how Lois spilled the beans about Superman’s identity, and it’s refreshing to see Superman fight an enemy he can’t defeat by punching.
12 Old Man Logan Marvel 4
  While I love seeing an out-of-place Wolverine wander around Battle World in a confused rage, it’s Andrea Sorrentino’s panel layout that really keeps me engaged.
13 Groot Marvel 3
  As much as I loved the recently-retired Skottie Young Rocket Raccoon book, Groot is just as adorable. It’s good for all ages, with feel-good lessons in friendship and kindness. Aww.
14 Deadly Class Image 15 5 -9
  While the Remender/Craig tag-team reigns champion, I can’t get over just how scathingly manic-depressive this book got this month. It’s a downer for sure.
15 Nailbiter Image 15 16 +1
  The deeper we keep falling into the mystery, the further the bottom seems to be. It’s a phenomenal book, but I feel just as lost now as I did at square one.
16 The Walking Dead Image 145 4 -12
  I still look forward to this book every month, but the more I read it, the more I realize that Robert Kirkman is becoming George Lucas 2.0. There’s just too much TWD in the world for me right now. That being said, this new threat is gonna bring back the funk.
17 E is for Extinction Marvel 3
  Thank you, Chris Burnham, for making unsexy comic books cool. His raw art is perfect for this post-Morrison, Morrison-style book, which is as awesome as it is awkward.
18 Giant Sized Little Marvel AvX Marvel 3
  This book makes me feel like vomitting rainbows with each issue. It can be formulaic, but it’s just so darn cute – how could anybody not love this??
19 Postal Image 19 11 -8
  Mark, the autistic one-man Scooby gang, is tearing this conspiracy wide open. Although, just because it’s getting bigger doesn’t mean it’s getting better…
20 Batgirl DC 43
  It can be silly at times, but that’s part of the charm. Babs Tarr’s art has definitely grown on me. I’m fully on-board after some post-Gail Simone withdrawals.

 

Notably absent:

Most of the Secret Wars: I’m burnt out on Secret Wars. Marvel must be murdering DC in sales as of late, but their long game is tiring fans out.

Shutter and Birthright: For books that started as two of my favorite Image titles, the convoluted stories in both books have derailed their momentum significantly. I don’t expect that too last, though, as both books have the creative teams to handle it.

Wonder Woman: David and Meredith Finch have been a refreshing addition to the book, but the last couple issues have been noticeably lacking in substance or style. Plus, Donna Troy is completely one-dimensional and incapable of independent thought.

Retired books/ Hiatuses (Hawkeye, Saga, Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals): Some of the best books in the biz took the month off, making way for some newcomers to really shine this month!

Comic Book Reviews 08-13-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

 

Pick of the Week:

8.13 starlight 5 pick of the week

Starlight #5 A

This book is what adventures are made out of! Duke McQueen, once savior of the galaxy, is now an old man who has lived his life shamed by the very people he saved because nobody believes him – including his own sons. However, the same cannot be said across the galaxy in Tantalus, where an underground revolution is stirring. It’s hard to tell you what happened in this issue without spoiling anything, but know that s*** is about to get REAL. I enjoy every aspect of this story, and the books move along at a very brisk pace, containing just enough dialogue to keep readers engaged but not enough to feel cluttered. With Kick-Ass officially done for good, this is my new favorite MillarWorld book out. For something new and exciting, this is the book you should be reading! – Sherif

 

Other Reviews: 

BOOM! Studios:

Hexed #1 – A-

Perhaps the biggest reason I loved the new comic Hexed is because it was very reminiscent of Buffy, but instead of our hero, Lucifer, being a Slayer, she is a cat burglar.  Lucifer is witty and quick thinking.  She also knows a lot about the magical world.  After all, most of her jobs involve some sort of magical, artsy artifact.  The art in this book was mesmerizing; the use of color was very well done, taking us from ” the normal world”, to the bright colors of magical hexes, and to the dark and eery world from inside of a scary painting.  The story was enough of a teaser to keep me interested for the next issue, but it also kept me interested in what was happening in the moment.  Lucifer is very relatable, despite the fact that she is a thief and is very mixed up in the magical world.  She has a lot of foes, and it can be hard to determine who is the worst.  This isn’t a gripe with the book, rather a compliment because it is often hard for anyone to distinguish who the baddies are in our own lives.  The first issue left us with a pretty big cliffhanger, which is something I personally like when I have only 20 pages to get into a story.  I definitely expect Hexed to just get better from here on out.  – Adrian

 

Dark Horse:

Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #8 – C+

Well everything I thought was coming pretty much got shot down this issue. I was hoping for happier ending for John Connor but it seems like that won’t be happening, at least the way things are looking. The cover and the last issue were definitely a bit misleading, but we still have plenty of time left to change John’s future. – Robert

 

DC/Vertigo:

Batman #34 – A-

I’m still reeling from the end of Zero Year, the phenomenal story of Batman’s first appearance in Gotham City. This issue is the bridge into the next arc, Endgame, which is undoubtedly going to be another classic. As far as one-shots go, this is pretty damn great. Matteo Scalera does a decent job filling in, and honestly, the ultra-dark tone of the issue is suited by it. We get to see a morbid side of Gotham and Batman that we really haven’t gotten to since Snyder’s first Batman run, The Black Mirror. It honestly gave me the creeps, in a good way. This killer that Batman is trying to catch gave me extra heebie-jeebies because he is more along the lines of what could happen in real life. I’m looking forward to seeing the team back together in issue #35, but this was a great all-encompassing story well worthy of you time. – Sherif

Batgirl #34 C-

As much as I will miss Gail Simone’s writing, a complete creative overhaul for Batgirl is just what the doctor ordered. This latest Knightfall arc has floundered for a good ten issues, so this big finale was a great way to send Simone off. The art in Batgirl has also gotten progressively worse, with this issue being one of the least appealing in recent history. Batgirl pulls out all the stops, and calls in all the favors she can to beat Knightfall, but it doesn’t feel like the climactic ending that the book deserved. Where the book does succeed is in the portrayal of the original Birds of Prey team – Huntress, Canary and Batgirl. They work very well together and Simone’s writing gave me a solid case of nostalgia reading it. It was a decent way to wrap up this run, and I do look forward to the next version of Barbara Gordon; I have high hopes that a new start will revitalize the character. – Sherif

Batman Eternal #19 – C-

I don’t know why I continue to read this book anymore seeing as I have not been satisfied for the last ten issues or so. Now that Zero Year is over, things are going back to normal in the regular Batman book. I don’t like how they are using it to bridge the gaps in other books and how it is becoming a mandatory read in order not to be confused in a book I actually care about. About half way through this book I felt completely lost and realized how much I hate DC for doing this with another book. I have been very critical of how they did the same thing with the Superman family. It’s as if they are forcing people to read subpar books by putting important bits of information in them (I’m looking at you Superboy). I don’t appreciate this approach at all and should the writing also continue to be subpar, will have to discontinue my support of most of these publications. – Robert

 

IDW Comics:

Star Trek #36 – A-

What a wonderful series for any Star Trek fan! In this issue we see the current film cast, Deep Space Nine’s captain Sisko and Odo, and of course Q the greatest villain from The Next Generation (sorry, Borg). The art as with most IDW series is fantastic and unlike sometimes, each character looks exactly like they did in their respective series. I am sure we will see more The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and maybe even Enterprise, which would be great. If you are a fan of Star Trek in any capacity this is spectacular and even if you are not this is a great series as it may introduce you to characters from the entire Star Trek Universe to give you an idea of which series you may enjoy more.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #37 B-

(B+) This was a pretty fun one off issue for the series where we see a battle between Shredder and Krang and a new mutant is introduced. The story for this issue is pretty solid despite the lack of Turtles in it but nevertheless, the story is good and gives us a great look into the two biggest villains in turtle history. The art is done by Cory Smith and he knocks it out of the park with this issue and it is nice and fresh to see a different artist than Mateus Santolouco although all the artist for this series have been great! Definitely check out this issue as it is a single story and a new arc will start next month. – Jacob

(C) Since City Fall, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are preparing for a comeback. However, with Shredder in possession of some mutagen, he has set his sites upon higher targets. However, before taking over the world, he must first have a meeting of the minds with Krang. The tensions quickly rise, as the two are both too stubborn to share a vision of the future. There are some great scenes between the two, but a lot of the issue is mindless banter between Shredder and Krang, with a predictable ending and zero turtles. The addition of Krang into the mix will give the fight for New York a new perspective for the TMNT, so while this issue was a bit stagnant, it was necessary in the grand scheme of things. – Sherif

The X-Files #15 – B-

Well this issue was definitely a mind bending issue as I am still thinking about the ending… But the art of this series has always gotten on my nerves although it is the worst I have seen I wish a more detailed artist could do some upcoming issues as they have many which is obvious with the covers for this series. The writing for this issue is top notch as I have felt this whole series is and is definitely a must have for any fan of the television series. Although if you are looking to start right now, I would wait or try and read all the back issues first as things have gotten real crazy especially this issue so it could definitely be confusing to the new reader.

Transformers: Primacy #1 C+

The final installment in the current Transformers series starts out with recent Autobot Academy graduate Hot Rod joining the ranks of the Auto Bots and learning the ins and outs like any fresh meat (or fresh metal in this case). In the meantime, Optimus is off climbing glaciers with Ironhide when they come across something ancient and Megatron seems to have some dastardly new plan. Overall, I enjoyed this; it was a bit slow with all the exposition, but I feel like this mini-series is going to get pretty good. I also enjoyed the art in this one. It was very realistic although it was a bit dark at times. Definitely worth the time if you’re a Transformers fan. – Cody

 

Image Comics:

Sex Criminals #7 A

There aren’t too many books that really pull off a dildo sword fight. Matt Fraction has written in the most ridiculous scenes into this book about two twenty-somethings who find a bond between them because they can freeze time from their orgasms. I absolutely love how John’s backstory intertwines with the current situation. The books has been primarily told through Susie’s point of view, so this helps add some variety to a character we’ve never gotten to fully explore. This book is fully shifting back into gear after our power couple fell into a bit of a lull, relationship-wise. Especially after John found what was in the Sex Police basement, I’m entirely excited for the book to get back to it’s action-packed, crazy self. Like I said, dildo swashbuckling. – Sherif

Shutter #5 A-

Shutter continues to wow. Five issues in and I’m still awed by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca’s adventure story. Every installment opens more and more doors for what could possibly come next, and because it is such an original story, I have no expectations for what will come next or when I expect anything to wrap up. I also love the concept of revealing the backstory of Kate’s dad bit by bit instead of doing it all at once. Each appearance fits within the story, and although answering questions, also shrouds itself in enough mystery to keep me intrigued for future issues. And then there’s Alarm Cat, who is one of the best companions you could ever ask for. There are a few moments that make you lose brief connection with Kate, but for the most part, this book is just pure gold, and I hope there is enough juice to squeeze 100 more issues! – Sherif

The Walking Dead #130 B-

I have no idea what is going on here. Did George Romero take over as writer for The Walking Dead? There are events in this issue that our brand new to the series, but has been the central theme to all of the recent Romero titles. I’m not sure whether it’s done as a slight, since Romero has trashed TWD as being a “soap opera,” or whether the series is actually going to go in that direction, but it’s straight-up absurd. I do give the issue a lot of praise for progressing the story along – setting up Carl for a better role and finally showing a post-pregnancy Maggie – and especially for not taking the easy bait at the end of the last issue. There’s still tons of promise in this series, so a little absurdity is allowed. – Sherif

 

Marvel:

All-New X-Men #20 B+

If you picked up this book and stopped reading it after the first ten pages, you would think that it is a terrible book. The awkward PG-13 relationship between X-23 and Angel was enough to make me take pause. The whole “I’m an animal” and “if you only knew the things I’ve done” cliché has been done so many times that it’s hardly even parodied anymore. The real excitement is between Jean Grey and Emma Frost, the latter of which is trying to push Jean Grey to realize her true powers. We finally get the showdown between the two, as Emma’s jealousy is addressed. Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde and her relationship with Star-Lord is investigated further. The signature of this series has been the fact that it is often tethered to lots of humor – none more so than Iceman. This is an exemplary bridge issue that still progresses multiple storylines, and gets us one step closer to finding out the contents of Charles Xavier’s Last Will and Testament. – Sherif

Spider-Man 2099 #2 – B+

This book has the potential to be really good and actually has a great sense of humor, especially in this episode. Things have started a bit on the slow side but I am sure things are going to pick up soon enough. I have no complaints about this issue and am looking forward to what this book has to offer in the future. – Robert

Wolverine #11 – C+

(B-) One more month until one of Marvel’s most famous characters and personally one of mine (after all he was best friends with Morph in the X-Men animated series) meets his ultimate fate. We have him getting to Sabertooth’s lair with many allies and trying to take him on. Obviously with next month being the last, we don’t get the epic battle between Wolverine and Sabertooth but we don’t have long to wait. The art of this issue is great and the story is good as well. Although it is an epic event the story is not the best I think Wolverines death should have, but we will see how it all goes down next month. – Jacob

(C) Well the time we have been waiting for during these last few months is almost upon us. One more issue and Wolverine is gonna be dead. I am actually wondering if he will finally kill Sabretooth and take that orb to get his powers back. Or maybe this will be some crappy metaphorical death. Either way, if they were going to actually kill Wolverine, I wish they wouldn’t have announced it so long ago. For being so close to the end, this issue had an awful lot of filler. I am honestly ready for this to be over so we can move on to whatever is coming next. – Robert

Original Sin #7 – C

This series has been enjoyable but I found myself lost in this issue. I still feel like I understand what s going on, but by the end of this issue I was left scratching my head. The art as always in this series is good although it is insanely dark with more shadows than words on the page and this is a wordy series. It is all over next month so yeah it is a bad time to just get into the series and it is one of the more violent Marvel series at the moment so also not for kids. – Jacob

Amazing Spider-Man #5 – C

I am not sure that I am crazy about this love triangle Peter has suddenly gotten himself into. He is supposed to be in relationship with Anna and we all know you can never get rid of Mary Jane, and now he has this new chick, it is like a bad soap opera even by comic book standards. I am more interested in the ending of this issue however; there is no way they are going to release Peter’s identity again so I want to see how he gets out of this. Nothing too crazy has happened since Peter came back, minus the new chick, so I am hoping that they pick up the pace instead of easing back into things. – Robert

Deadpool #33 – C

Although this Deadpool story arc has been interesting with meeting his daughter, it is altogether not a great Deadpool story. After reading some really good Deadpool stories it is hard to read the constant three series of the character that happen each month. The art is pretty good but not great and overall the story is enjoyable as most Deadpool but this story is definitely one of the duller of this series. – Jacob

Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet #6 – C-

Ok I have to admit this issue was quite fun once I got past my views of just how ridiculous it is. I still don’t think it is anything special but in this issue we got to see Red Hulk, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Punisher, Blade, and a couple extra Deadpool regulars. The art is for this series has been good for the whole run and the story overall isn’t good or terrible. If you enjoy Deadpool, it is worth a read otherwise avoid this series, as it is one of the craziest and weirdest Deadpool series I have read. – Jacob

Nova Special #1 – F

I found this issue to be incredibly boring. NOVA is a kid who is out of his league at this point. He can hardly even handle a bunch of teenage X-Men. I found myself struggling to even get to the next page. Iron Man is a total douche (as always). The ‘X-Kids’ are morons. And, NOVA is weak. The art of the book isn’t bad, until Iron Man shows up, I’m not sure what was going on there. Even though it only takes 10 minutes to read, save you time, watch The Office instead…at least you’ll laugh. – Cody

 

Funniest Panel:

8.13 all new x-men 30 funny panel

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

8.13 tmnt 37 cool panel

 

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

 

Batman Day – Best TV Episodes

DC Comics has dubbed today Batman Day. The Dark Knight has been fighting crime and serving justice for his 75th year since the 1939 debut of Detective Comics #27. Batman has been a big part of our lives, and was responsible for making me in the comic book fanatics we are today, whether it be through comic books and toys or television and movies. To show our appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend, we have compiled a plethora of Bat-themed lists. We hope that we can inspire you to read more about Batman and his legacy, or even give us some feedback if you agree or disagree with the lists. Sound off below! Or click on the picture below to take you to all of our Batman Day articles.

 

batman day logo

 

 

Top 10 Episodes

If you’re like us, you grew up watching Batman in animated form take over the TV in animated form on Saturday mornings, or syndicated after school. For almost a full decade, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and a complete cast of supporting characters set a new standard for cartoons with Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, headlining an already-phenomenal decade of classic cartoons. Since the original spin-off Batman Beyond ended in 2001, DC has had years of success in the animated world riding the wave of B:TAS. In fact, Batman has been the only superhero to carry a solo series for over a season since (minus Green Lantern, but shhh) Superman: The Animated Series aired alongside Batman’s. The newer incarnations never lived up to the quality of the 90’s, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t special in their own way. We go through ten – and yes it was hard to limit it to ten – of our favorite episodes from the animated series.

 

10.) Batman: The Brave and the Bold S1 E24, “Mayhem of the Music Meister”

Anytime a show’s episode is compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More With Feeling,” the show is doing a good job. BATB was a silly show, but there were still enough serious moments to keep the show believable. It was great at straddling the line between corny and serious crime fighting every episode. There was just enough wiggle room for an episode like “Mayhem of the Music Meister to sneak through. Thanks to the talents of Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible‘s Sing-A-Long Blog), the episode is full of hilarious ditties, capped by the heroic performance of Batman and his voice of justice. “Music Meister” proved that Batman series don’t always need to take themselves so seriously.

 

9.) The New Batman Adventures S1E12, “Over the Edge”

Watching this episode as a kid, I had my jaw open the whole time. Batgirl, in a struggle with Scarecrow, had been knocked off a building, falling to her death. In a fit of rage, Commissioner Gordon’s reaction to discovering that his own daughter was the Batgirl was one of I couldn’t quite comprehend. What came next was the complete annihilation of the trust they have worked so hard to build, the invasion of Wayne Manor by the GCPD. I though I was watching the end of the show, when suddenly, it turns out that none of it was real. It had all been a hallucination caused by Scarecrow’s fear toxin. I can safely say that I have never felt as fooled by a plot twist as when watching “Over the Edge.”

tasover01

 

8.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E30, “Perchance to Dream”

Another hallucination-based episode, “Perchance to Dream” dangles Batman’s greatest desires in front of him. Waking up after a hard hit knocks him unconscious, both his parents are alive, but there is no sign anywhere that he is the Batman. On the plus side, he is engaged to Selina Kyle, living the life of a boring rich kid. As more memories flood in of his time as Batman, he begins to think he’s going insane, haunted by the shadow of a Batman. It turns out the Mad Hatter had Batman under his control, ripping the would-be great life away from Batman. Kevin Conroy, a student of Shakespeare, says that this is favorite episode of all. With the deep exploration of Batman’s psyche, it took B:TAS beyond the status quo for Saturday morning cartoon.

Wayne_and_Batman_fight

 

7.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E60-61, “The Demon’s Quest”

This Ra’s al Ghul-centric arc is based on the story written by Dennis O’Neil, who created the character with Neal Adams in 1971’s Batman #232. O’Neil actually wrote the first episode of the two-part arc. Ra’s al Ghul’s proper introduction into the show was so appropriate for him. He is a villain unlike any other. Immediately, Ra’s knows Batman’s secret identity, but doesn’t much seem to care. The great thing about Ra’s is that he doesn’t want Batman dead, but rather to take over the family business of global domination. There’s also a really fun swash-buckling scene where Batman and Ra’s engage in combat. The whole thing feels very Lawrence of Arabia; bringing this classic comic book story to animated form was a great call and a pleasure to watch.

demons03

 

6.) Batman: The Animated Series, S1E2 “Christmas With the Joker”

Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. Batmobile lost its wheels, and Joker got away! “Christmas With the Joker” is one of the funnest episodes of the series. Just hand Mark Hamill the microphone and let him go wild. Joker kidnaps Gordon, Harvey Bullock and Summer Gleason, putting on a Christmas special for Gotham, drawing the Batman out and sending him and Robin on a wild goose chase around town. After finally catching up with the Joker and foiling his plan, he gives Batman a Christmas present – a big ol’ pie right in the face! He went through all that trouble, kidnapping law enforcement, riggin toy soldiers to kill, all to give Batman a pie in the face. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick watch It’s A Wonderful Life, to which Bruce comments, “it has its moments.”

joker08

 

5.) The New Batman Adventures S1E19 “Legends of the Dark Knight”

There’s nothing like a good tribute episode to really get the fans into it. The episode follows three kids as they argue back and forth about what they think the Batman is like. The children featured are actually tributes to famous kids in the DC Animated lore. Matt is the brother of Batman Beyond‘s Terry McGinnis, Carrie is the Robin from The Dark Knight Returns, and Nick is from the “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement,” where he and two other children hide Batman in their house when they find him injured and in danger. Each account of the Batman is a callback to a famous time period in Batman’s history. Matt’s version is a tribute to the Dick Sprang style Batman, which inspired the Brave and the Bold cartoon. Carrie’s version is a callback to The Dark Knight Returns, which was unique because Frank Miller’s TDKR is one of the most adult versions of the Batman created, so to see it toned down for a cartoon was really neat. As they continue walking around the block, they run into Firefly, who is quickly dispatched by the Batman himself. The episode is hero worship in the purest sense.

LegendsThreeKids

 

4.) The New Batman Adventures S1E21 “Mad Love”

Harley Quinn has always been down for her man, even if Mistah Jay treats her like crap. However, this episode – based off the 1994 Batman Adventures: Mad Love book – is where Harley draws the line. After trying to get Joker in the mood he abusively shrugs Harley off, focused on his many failed attempts at taking  Batman down. Just to make him happy, Harley devises a plan to capture the Dark Knight on her own, and it works! Expecting Joker would be happy about her accomplishment, he was furious that Harley did a better job than he did – that Joker had to be the one to do it. Joker then proceeds to beat the crap out of Harley, and not in a comical way, but rather in a domestic violence kind of way. The issue opened my eyes to the topic of domestic violence, and even then I knew it was wrong.

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3.) Batman Beyond, S1E1-2 “Rebirth”

The year was 1999 and Batman: The Animated Series as we knew it was over. Sure, there was still Justice League, but sharing screen time with the other Leaguers left me pining for more Batman. Enter Batman Beyond. It was Batman… from the future! Reprising his role of Bruce Wayne, Kevin Conroy was a link to the show we loved so much. What made this story so great was that it was a completely new world, with futuristic characters and gadgets, as well as adaptations of villains years in the future. Terry’s character was also completely relatable: single parent home, sibling rivalry, high school relationships. This show rejuvenated the Batman animated world, and became an instant fan favorite. Schway.

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2.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E14, “Heart of Ice”

“Heart of Ice” was the first episode of the series directed by creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. Victor Fries is one of the most tragic villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. Sure he blasts innocent people to death with his freeze ray, but he’s got a good reason to be upset with the world. Working at GothCorp, Fries had been working tirelessly to find a cure for his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora, when company CEO Ferris Boyle coldly shut down operations. When Fries tried to stop Boyle, Boyle threw Fries into the a table of chemicals, essentially turning him into the monster he is today. Mr. Freeze’s goal is simple revenge – and who could blame him? The issue itself was poetic, as Batman and viewers alike could feel Freeze’s pain.

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1.) Batman: The Animated Series, S1E46 “Almost Got ‘Im”

If you want one episode to represent Batman in the animated world, “Almost Got ‘Im” is your show. Joker, Ivy, Penguin, Killer Croc and Two-Face play a high stakes game of poker as they share stories about the time they came so close to killing the Batman, each coming up with one excuse or another as to why their plan didn’t fall through. Their recollections are brief, but still intriguing. The best story had to be Killer Croc, who said that he once threw a rock at Batman. When the rest of the rogues looked unimpressed, he insisted “it was a big rock.” After Joker spills the beans about his and Harley’s plans to ground Catwoman into cat food (kind of morbid, but whatever), Croc reveals himself to be Batman in disguise, with GCPD hiding in wait. The whole thing had been a setup. After rescuing Catwoman, she proposes that they run away together, and after seemingly giving this consideration, he pulls his signature disappearing act, to which Catwoman says, “Almost Got ‘Im.”

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Comic Book Reviews 04-09-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

The Walking Dead #125 – A

Finally!  A TWD issue that sustainably elevated my heart-rate!  I’d forgotten what that felt like.  We are one issue away from the conclusion of the All Out War arch of the series and all things are stacked up accordingly.  What’s got me even more excited is I can actually still envision a future for this series – all thanks to THIS issue.  How the war ends will be exciting and interesting (I’m betting), but real trademark of The Walking Dead series is how Kirkman and Image are able to keep that baited hook dangling in front of readers – ensuring that the everlasting question, “what will happen next?!” stays on the forefront of fans’ minds.  Maybe I’m still just on my high from #125 and I’ll be off of it by tomorrow morning.  But after being thisss close to putting this series to bed, I’m right back where I was when I first picked up this series – dying to keep reading.  See what I did there?… – T

The spirit of The Walking Dead has reanimated from the corpse that has been the last ten issues. When Rick first butted heads with Rick – and then promptly murdered one of the most beloved characters on the show – we knew there was going to be a showdown that lasted a while. However, with the way that (at least it seems from the last panel) it is wrapping up, it isn’t sitting well with me. In a GREAT way. Is Rick really the good guy? This issue contains quite possibly the greatest soliloquy the series has ever had – and then throws it all away in the name of survival. Damn you, Robert Kirkman, you had us all fooled. – S

“But seriously, there’s nothing weird about wanting to piss all over Rick Grimes’s dead bloated body.  He ruined everything, every motherfucking thing. It’d be weird if I didn’t piss all over him.” Hilltop is in shambles, and The Saviors are in the woods waiting nearby to finish the job. Negan is waiting for the remaining survivors to surrender after Rick dies from his injury following Dwight’s arrow to the back. While we fear for Rick’s life, Carl gives Mikey some much needed advice as he watches his father die. Hang on tight Dead-heads! The last page of issue #125 is exactly what we have been waiting for since this war began. – JS

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics:

Star Wars #16 – B-

I’m still riding this Star Wars wave.  The first 15 issues have taken me up and down in my enjoyment.  I’m on my way up with the latest issue and hoping that it keeps building.  After the plot “reset” that took place last issue, I ‘m glad to see that this issue followed up in appropriate fashion.  It’s become a story of depth and internal struggles – something that defines classic Star Wars.  But man… I sure do wish Wood (writer) would drop the whole “Luke still has a crush on Leia” angle.  I shutter in disgust way more frequently than I should reading a SW comic. – T

DC/Vertigo:

Batman: Eternal #1 – A

Batman is getting a LOT of attention this year, and for deserved reasons; we celebrate the Dark Knight’s 75th Anniversary with Batman: Eternal, a weekly series headed by Scott Synder and James Tynion IV. Usually I’m a bit skeptical of weekly series, but Eternal is the real deal. The first issue pulls no punches. We’re given a glimpse of the future and it looks terrible; Gotham is in flames, and whoever is doing this knows Batman’s identity. My money is on Ra’s Al Ghul. He’s been too quiet in the New 52. Anyway, the issue also sets precedents. We’re given a new police officer recruit, and Jim Gordon gets himself in DEEP doo-doo. It’s everything I want out of a Bat-book and more, and the fact that it is weekly means they will be propelling Batman’s universe four times as fast with new (and returning) characters making an impact. – S

Superman – Wonder Woman – B+

I’m not really sure how the hell Wonder Woman has become the God of War since I don’t keep up with her regular book, but I think they could have done a better job summarizing what happened there for the rest of us. This issue wasn’t so much about the past as it is about the future. Starting with the next issue as well as the next Superman issue, they will be starting Doomed, which can only include one villain when you think about it. But just in case it doesn’t immediately come to you, I won’t spoil the ending of this issue for you. My biggest question is how will these two fare against one of the greatest DC foes of all time? Will the combined might of the God of War and the Man of Steel be enough to conquer true evil? It sure as hell better be because Supes was able to do it by himself once before so I don’t wanna see any weak crap in the next few issues. This book has been very solid throughout and I would hate for it to turn into some kind of love conquers all cliché. – R

Batgirl #30 – C

What the hell is going on in Gotham City right now? Where have all of these supernatural demons and vampires come from? I hope these last few issues haven’t been a setup for some bigger supernatural plot line they are going to introduce, because with the way they have written the last few issues regarding it, it would be enough to make me seriously consider not continuing to read this book. Aside from all of that the artwork was great and there was nice introspection from Barbara about Dick Grayson that meshed with the story very well. – R

When I first found out that Gail Simone didn’t write this issue, I freaked out. Luckily, this is just a one-time thing, as she returns to writing in #31. That being said, what was so special about this issue that Simone got bumped back an issue? I don’t really understand the Alien-like symbiote; it could be setting up some weird gooey future storyline, but it’s unclear as to how that will happen. What I really don’t get – and makes me want to chuck the issue altogether – is that she spends the entire issue pouting and “mourning” Dick Grayson. I think this is an unbelievably dumb move, because his fate is still in the balance in Forever Evil, so it’s like “Shut the hell up, Barbara, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Gail Simone would never have been so sloppy, so I’m glad next month we can get back to normal. – S

Dynamite Entertainment:

Flash Gordon #1 – B

I’ve had the misfortune of being born in the 20th Century.  The internet, smart phones, and automated coffee makers that will, in all likelihood, enslave the human race one day have all been the norm for me.  As such, I never got to experience Flash Gordon in his original form as a 1930’s adventure comic hero.  So imagine my surprise when I was hit with nostalgia and wonderment when reading the new Flash Gordon series.  Weird right?!  It’s abundantly clear that Parker (writer), Shaner (illustrator) and Dynamite have an agenda with Flash and his courageous crew in that they are bringing a cherished piece of nerd history to the present.  The beauty of issue #1 is that it’s cliché in nearly every aspect of the original comic book medium – from the artwork, to the general plot and character banter.  But it’s all done in a way that captures my attention and makes me want more.  I mean, if George Lucas used this as inspiration for Star Wars, that means it guaranteed to be good. – T

IDW Comics:

Rocky and Bullwinkle #2 – B

In the second issue of Rocky and Bullwinkle, we have the same format as about every episode of the show and the last issue. It is a two-part story with a “Dudley Do-Right” story in the middle. This series reads so much like the show, which makes them absolutely wonderful for fans of the past. It is hard to get through without speaking the lines as Bullwinkle or Boris and yet Snidley has not tied Nell to train tracks yet. This issue brings up a almost Burt Wonderstone feel of how magic is lost in modern times and no one goes to see the magician, the Great Griffin anymore. Moose and Squirrel find him and try to help him make it onto a reality show competition but as magic is no more in this modern era, he inevitably fails. The baddies Boris and Natasha try to kidnap Griffin to have him open a safe and only with the help from some old friends will Rocky and Bullwinkle be able to save the day in time. The Dudley Do-Right story is great as well and puts the well known Mountie phrase to the test, “A Mountie always gets his man!” Filled with many great gags, references, and even a Kardashian joke to wrap it all up, this series is a great read and always bring lots of nostalgia into your life. – JR

Samurai Jack #7 – B-

Samurai Jacqueline and the Scotswoman are back for another adventure…wait. With Jack and the Scotsman under a spell that has turned them into women, the Leprechauns whom cursed them send them on a journey to defeat a bothersome giant. Once the duo reach the giant and attack it relentlessly they find out the giant is actually a good person and his screams drown out the spell making both Jack and the Scotsman men again. Once that gender switch is taken care of the heroes now head back to the leprechauns with their giant friend to defeat them once and for all. This two-issue story was quite entertaining and left you almost wanting to see the gender bending team stay on for more than just two issues. As always, the art of the Samurai Jack books are great and the dialogue is slim which makes it just like the series. A great read for any Jack fan and of course if you had read last months issue. – JR

Image Comics:

Shutter #1 – A-

Seriously, does Image Comics have a bad book? Their latest new book, Shutter, is a fantastic story of a young girl who was groomed to be the world’s greatest explorer. The traumatic death of what we think is her surrogate or biological father derailed her ambition, but “She’s seen some shit,” so she says. Somewhere in the middle, there are holographic ninjas and mechanical Monopoly men. The book is funny and exotic and I can’t wait to keep reading. I mean, any story in which the moon is considered boring must be an adventure worth taking. – A

Marvel:

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 – A

This comic was amazing; it was dark, filled with that reminded me of a brutal anime (Afro Samurai) and set the tone for a great story to take place. I really like this new Iron Fist, and I only want to see more of him. For those of you that love the character, or know nothing about him, this is a great comic to check out. I can’t wait for the next issue to come out and I highly recommend it.  – E

Kick-Ass 3 # 7 – A-

Hit-Girl is back and s*** is about to go down. There is only one more issue left and it finally feels like we are going to see the badass kickass we have been waiting to see since the beginning. Three storylines in the making, and he finally is done being such a wuss. Lots happened this issue, but none of it is as important as what is coming up next issue. This conclusion could mean the death of one, or both, of our heroes, as Millar has said before that this will be the last installment of the epic trilogy six years and two movies in the making. I don’t know how they are going to end it all but I can’t wait to find out, this issue has got me pumped for the finale. – R

Captain Marvel # 2 – B

That Flerken Cat! Captain Marvel is back in space after an awesome introductory issue. We get a good scope of how strong of a character she is, physically and in character. The only thing that could make her book even more enjoyable is a team up with the Marvel darlings, Guardians of the Galaxy! Rocket Raccoon steals the spotlight a bit, as he always does, and the whole issue is entertaining. I’m really excited to see how this team-up builds and, of course, Kelly Sue DeConnick‘s writing shapes the story wonderfully. Go buy this! – S

All-New Ghost Rider # 2 – B

Only into the second book and this series has proven its worth. We still don’t have an explanation as to why Robbie Reyes has become the Ghost Rider but I am sure we will get that soon enough. This series and the characters are growing very nicely and we are definitely getting to sympathize with Robbie and beginning to dislike many people he will likely be battling and defeating in coming issues. This issue shows us what the mystery pink pills that were in the car Robbie borrowed to race can do, and it introduces us to multiple people who may end up being main adversaries throughout the series. Although the standard Johnny Blaze and the motorcycle we all know and grew to love are gone, this new, gritty and very different artistic take on Ghost Rider is guaranteed to please old fans and create many new ones. – JR

Thanks to Marvel’s earlier studio movies – okay, really, it’s just Nicholas Cage’s fault – fans have a sour taste of Johnny Blaze in our mouths. Couple that with the fact he hasn’t been around since the end of Fear Itself a couple years ago, and it just screams reboot! Robbie Reyes is to the barrio what Kamala Khan is to Muslim Americans; there’s a certain honesty that All-New Ghost Rider carries with it is refreshing and unique. The new outfit, vehicle and art style are very polarizing. I feel like you either love how it feels or you think it looks cheap and poorly designed. You can add me to the list of the former, because Ghost Rider is quickly catapulting to the upper echelon of books in my pull list. – S

(Note: can’t win ’em all) The new Ghost Rider has a new look, and as Tim Gunn would say, “This concerns me.” The new GR is a Los Angelino named Robbie Reyes. No more flaming chopper and black leather jacket, our hellish vigilante is pushing a muscle car and looks more like a H&M model than hellfire corpse. Look at it this way, I read this comic so that you won’t have to. – JS

All-New X-Men # 25 – B

This book is beautifully illustrated. I’m not sure that I am versed enough in comic folklore to fully appreciate the massive team of talent that went into this singular issue…if you are a comic head you will appreciate this Dream Team roster of artistic talent; Bruce Timm, Laura Martin, Arthur Adams, Justin Ponsor, David Mack, Skottie Young, Jason Keith, Robbi Rodriguez, Lee Bermejo and Marte Gracia to name a few. Beast is visited in the middle of the night by The Watcher. He plays a Ghost of Christmas future role and shows Hank all the damage he caused by bringing the X-Men to the future. What this issue lacks in story, it makes up in production. – JS

All-New Doop # 1 – B

If you see the cover of this and are immediately turned off because it’s ridiculous and dumb, then you can hand in the keys to your childhood right now. Doop is described as the “green potato thing,” and boy is that on the money…. I guess. Doop reminds me of a cuter version of DC’s Bat-Mite as he sneaks around behind the scenes and meddles with the X-Men’s affairs in Battle of the Atom. It’s just overall a really cute book that adds a breath of fresh air, especially in a week filled with so many anniversary and tribute issues. Take this book for a spin and I bet you won’t be disappointed. – S

Daredevil # 1.50 – B-

Here we get yet another anniversary issue, celebrating fifty years of Matt Murdock. We begin with a letter from the editor revealing that The Avengers came about solely to fill in a gap when the writers of Daredevil were late – very interesting. This anniversary special is broken into three parts: one written in the future by current writer Mark Waid, one by legendary writer Brian Michael Bendis, and the final a reprinting of an old Gene Colan piece (RIP). It’s better than a lot of tribute issues as of recent where too many writers just too few pages to tell a meaningful story. Instead, we’re given unique and powerful panels that remind us why Daredevil is The Man Without Fear. Even fans not caught up with the book can appreciate this. – S

Deadpool # 27 – B-

Dubbed “The Most Important Issue #27 in Comic Book History,” I was already offended before I flipped to the first page Note: This is a joke, of course, but Detective Comics (1939) #27 gave us the first appearance of Batman, who is experiencing his 75th Anniversary this year. The cover to this issue is amazing; it would be a fun game to see how many of the 232 characters we know (key in the back of the issue). This issue is really long-winded, but serves as a tribute to and from all the writers and stories Deadpool has had over the years. There’s a really cool sense of ownership and community of the character. It kind of lost its mojo part way through, but the general consensus is that Deadpool has been lovestruck a lot and now that he finally has a bride, things can’t go his way for much longer. – S

Nightcrawler #1 – C

Disappointing effort from Chris Claremont. I was expecting something completely different. Nauck’s art lacks depth (in my opinion) and this book falls short. This was a boring first attempt to reenergize a fan favorite. Let’s hope there is more to come. – JS

For a book that sees our beloved Nightcrawler return from the dead, there sure wasn’t a whole lot to celebrate here. Acclaimed writer Chris Claremont is back to write the series, but a lot of the “umph” that he had in the 90s. His signature style of explaining every little nuanced detail of the character’s personality was endearing twenty years ago, but readers really don’t need that much background anymore. As for Nightcrawler, he’s really not even the focus in this book; he takes the backseat to both Wolverine and Amanda (Claremont explains everything but the history of this character, who is important to Nightcrawler, but not really in the X-Universe). At the end of the day, I just wanted more of the lovable BAMFer and less distracting side-story. The man just came back from the dead, can we get him a beer or something? Expand upon the stories of Heaven, Hell and Azazel? I’m willing to give it another chance, but I’m ready to teleport out if the next issue is as disappointing. – S

All-New Ultimates #1 – C-

This comic was fairly good. When there was action, it stood out and was very entertaining, however throughout a good part of the comic it just felt like nothing was happening. I do like that they didn’t make this new team the “ultimate weapon” right off the bat. They are still very new and green and they showed that side in the comic. Overall I enjoyed it and I recommend it to people that enjoy the characters. – E

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, Evan Lowe, Adrian Puryear, Taylor Lowe, Robert Michael, John Soweto and Jacob Robinson

Graphic Novel Review – Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

Graphic Novel Review – Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

younerdlikeagirl

Collecting: Bids of Prey #56-61

Original Release Date: 2003

Publisher: DC Comics

Character: Black Canary, Oracle (formerly Batgirl), Huntress

Writer: Gail Simone

Art: Ed Benes

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 6
Art – 7
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 9
Use of Medium – 7
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 8
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 8

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Think about your favorite team of heroes: Justice League (and their dozens of iterations), Avengers (and their hundred different iterations), Green Lantern Corps, X-Men… Now think about the gender representation among the group. Aside from the X-Men, women have been heavily underrepresented among the best in the universe for each team, let alone left in a position of power. Those female characters that are represented are typically typecast with revealing outfits and often find themselves “In A Refrigerator.” Well, in the mid-1990’s, Jordan Gorfinkel and DC Comics decided that readers wanted a team that they could relate to. The Birds of Prey were formed in 1996, consisting of Black Canary and Oracle. Through the years, DC’s elite women (sans Wonder Woman) have joined the Birds of Prey at some time or another. Characters like Hawkgirl, Vixen and Katana came under the spotlight of the Charlie’s Angels-esque team of strong women.

Chuck Dixon laid the groundwork for what would eventually turn into a DC Comics fan favorite. When Gail Simone took the reigns in 2003, we were already fifty-six issues in. Fortunately for readers, this was an opportune place to jump on, as Simone crafts Of Like Minds not only as an introduction to her writing, but the series, as well. Jumping into a series over fifty issues in is never an easy transition, but the dynamics of Birds of Prey is well established from the first page in. After suffering a paralyzing gunshot wound at the hands of the Joker in The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon has become Oracle – tech extraordinaire and human calculator. Although confined to a wheelchair, Babs is the clear leader of the group and, to be honest, the most integral member of the Birds of Prey. Meanwhile, Black Canary (Dinah Lance) and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) make the moves. Like messenger birds sent out by Oracle, they complete missions while Oracle feeds them intel.

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Of Like Minds gives up a lot of ground in story-telling establish an identity. Simone does an excellent job of portraying three distinct personalities among the group. While Oracle has the notable Batman influence – prepared to do whatever is needed to get the job done – Dinah is inspired by Green Arrow’s more “Robin Hood” view of how to be a superhero. Add a fired up and borderline violent Huntress to the mix, and you get an amazing chemistry that could carry its own series whether they were fighting crime or playing Cranium. Where the arc seems to falter, though, in with the characters surrounding them. The antagonist in Of Like Minds, Savant, has just enough juice to pique my interest, but not enough to be worthy of commandeering the book. That being said, there were far worse ways to introduce a villain like Savant, and his purpose seems to be solely make the Birds of Prey look good.

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Something that really impressed me about Of Like Minds was the amount of research Simone must have done to show just how legit our crew is. Take Barbara Gordon, for example. She’s no longer Batman’s sidekick, but rather one of the best most vital tools in the DC Universe for intel (really the only one until Cyborg’s rise to mainstream popularity a few years later). In fact, during Batman: No Man’s Land, which begins soon after the continuity of this book, she is crucial in Batman’s plight to take back Gotham. Throughout the pages, Babs: speaks multiple languages, quotes Benjamin Franklin and multiplies numbers together really quickly. She may be confined to a wheelchair, but Barbara Gordon uses her mind to thwart crime when her partner’s brawny methods come back fruitless.

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Keeping an open mind that this book was published over a decade ago, the idea of strong, capable characters is completely cut down by the way the characters are constantly being objectified. Ranging from blatant (Black Canary being bound and cuffed while Savant makes sexual banter) to subtle (putting the characters’ sexy parts conveniently next to word bubbles, and the awkwardly positioned poses to show off just enough butt to make it annoying), there’s no denying that DC was using sex appeal to sell Birds of Prey. With new-age super heroine books in the mainstream now like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Captain Marvel, it’s hard to imagine just how skewed the industry’s opinion of women was at the turn of the century.

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While the first arc of a Simone-written Birds of Prey shows its age in terms of the portrayal of women, the identity that Gail Simone – a woman writing a comic book about women – creates is worth the sticker price (or download price, as Of Like Minds is out of print and hard to find at a reasonable price). The pages are filled with Simone’s unique take on the Birds of Prey (a woman writer portraying a female led book – crazy, I know) was unprecedented at the time, especially ones smarter and mightier than their male counterparts. I was unimpressed with the story overall, but this is a case where style over substance is more over an investment. Gail Simone shows signs of becoming a tremendously talented writer, which really shines through in her recent work on Batgirl, one of my favorite series of the New 52.

All media credited to DC Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

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“Respect My Craft” – Gail Simone

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

younerdlikeagirl

Name: Gail Simone

Profession: Writer

Notable Work: Batgirl (New 52), Birds of PreyTomb RaiderThe Movement (New 52)

“Right now there are so many wonderful female things in comics; characters, creators, commentators, editors, convention organizers, store owners and readers. They don’t threaten anything in the industry, they add to it.” – Gail Simone

When you make a list of top-tier writers in the comic book industry right now, Gail Simone should always be brought up. Her great dialog and story vision has made Batgirl and The Movement two of DC Comics most intriguing titles, and garnered a strong fan-base along the way. Simone’s beginning are far simpler than the juggernaut writer she has become, though. Simone began as a blogger – well, I suppose they weren’t really known as bloggers in the late 1990’s. Through Comic Book Resources, Simone wrote a periodical called “You’ll All Be Sorry!” with a group of collaborators, writing satirical stories (one of my favorites was the “Bizarro  Preacher” article, written on my birthday). The stories must have given her the courage to piss off a whole lot of people when she launched Women in Refrigerators in 1999.

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Women in Refrigerators was originally meant to poke fun at an industry flaw, not incite rage – the same way we hoot and holler when Laurel starts making pouty faces on Arrow, chastising it for being too “C-Dub.” Anyway, the joke behind WIR is that women are constantly being used at plot pieces for either the development of male characters, or the deconstruction of the female ones. This wasn’t just some wild accusation either. On the site, which looks a whole lot like a 90’s Geocities page I made when I was in junior high, had a whole list of characters that fit the bill of expendable women in comic books. The most shocking thing about the list of that many of these characters – Storm, Supergirl, Wonder Woman – are prominent characters in the comic book world. She may not have made many friends by openly criticizing the industry, but it’s where Simone got her first job in the industry.

This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)
This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)

She began writing for The Simpsons in 2000, and covered several outlets for them. From the main title, to a Bart-based and Treehouse of Horror mini-series to the Sunday morning comic strips in the papers, Gail Simone was breaking out in a big way. Her work on The Simpsons led her to a job with Marvel on the Deadpool and Agent X series, where she was able to show off her humorous side – which has always been a strong suit of hers. It wasn’t until Simone got a gig writing Birds of Prey that things really took off.

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It was with DC Comics that Simone would really get the opportunity to spread her wings. Spanning 52 (heh heh, DC loves its 52’s) issues from 2003-2007, the Birds of Prey are a group of crime-fighting women working as a team. At this point in the story, Barbara Gordon AKA Oracle is confined to the seat of a wheelchair after the grueling fallout of The Killing Joke. Physically limited, yes, but Oracle is one of the team’s most valuable assets with her technical savvy. After runs on Secret SixGen13Villains United and other short runs, Simone really turned heads with her long run on Wonder Woman and The All-New Atom. Even with all that under her belt, it wasn’t until her second run on Secret Six that Gail Simone was a name that made me a fan for life.

Princess Diana's sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28
Princess Diana’s sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28

The Secret Six are a ragtag group of villains, led by the likes of Bane, that try to work as a team on contract to kill another villain. Simone was able to breathe a lot of life into these characters, most of which were unknown to casual fans. In fact, before the New 52 relaunch, Secret Six was one of the most beloved books on the shelves. The way Simone was able to turn these despicable villains into misunderstood heroes. After 36 issues of Secret Six, the series was canceled and Simone was brought on to write the new Batgirl series.

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Batgirl has ben one of my favorite books, and it’s because of the development of Barbara Gordon. The Batgirl from the first few issues is hardly recognizable to the Batgirl in issue #28. I love that her character is strong, yet shows vulnerability to the reader. That’s the result you get when you have a writer who is as passionate about the characters she or he is writing about. In a time where DC was criticized for its a lack of diversity (out of all the New 52 books released in 2011, hers was the only one written by a woman), Batgirl gave all leaders a better sense of identity. Her other DC story, The Movement, is loosely based super-hero version of the Occupy movement – once again giving a voice to those who cannot do so themselves. Unfortunately, the series will be canceled after the 12th issue in May. Lately, Simone has expanded her scope to write for other publishers now that her exclusive deal with DC Comics has ended. She has been writing the new Red Sonja series, as well as a brand new Tomb Raider. She hasn’t stopped there, either; Simone will be heading the Savage Wolverine series starting in May.

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From Killer Princesses to her upcoming Kickstarter project, Leaving Megalopolis, Gail Simone writes women characters that are capable, intelligent, and convincing. Her career in the industry started very much the way ours has – just a group of awesome friends typing out their love for comic books. Gail Simone is constantly on the floor at comic book conventions, and engages her fans via social media (Twitter, Tumblr). It might have started out as a joke, but her Women in Refrigerators piece was great commentary on the industry’s need to represent women better. One woman can’t change the world view alone, but with a work ethic like hers, you have to respect her craft! 

Checked out her bibliography and still want more? Check this out:

Gail Simone lights up the social networking with her witty, honest and often hilarious Tweets.

You can find paperback collections of her “You’ll All Be Sorry” articles on Amazon for less than $5.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel Comics & DC Comics) . Thanks for all the love and support for You Nerd Like A Girl. Look to us next week for more “Respect My Craft!,” featuring the industries most talented contributors.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Comic Book Reviews 02-12-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

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The Bunker #1 (Oni Press) – A

If you were one of the lucky few to order this book in print form, give yourself a pat on the back! The Bunker tells the story of a group of friends in the process of creating and burying time capsules in the woods. Instead, though, they stumble upon a military bunker, and self-addressed letter from their future selves. If that’s not trippy enough, the letters explain how each of them have a part in ending the world. No pressure. The Bunker did a really good job of pacing the story, and giving it enough detail that each character gets their own voice and personality. This could easily be made into a television show or movie. I highly recommend you pick this up digitally, or try to find a coveted physical copy. – S

Other Reviews:

DC/Vertigo:

Batman #28 – B+

After the crazy cliff-hanger from issue #27, Batman picks up in a completely different time, with a completely different cast. If you remember Harper, she’s the rambunctious orphan that has followed Batman around, and even saved his life when he was reeling from the unfortunate death of Damian. The break in action from Zero Year was a little bit annoying, especially when you realize that this issue was just a promotion for the weekly Batman: Eternal series out in April. All is forgiven immediately, as we finally see Harper, or Bluebird as she is called, knocking around the bad guys. There’s also a very awkward stand-off between Batman and Catwoman, who is very much a woman scorned. Bonus points for the underground club called The Egyptian. And a huuuge Spoiler at the end of the issue (get it?). Although issue #28 was a fun ride, and did make me want to read Eternal, it was an unneeded distraction from the superb Batman issues that preceded it. – S

Superman/ Wonder Woman #5 – B+

It is said that behind every strong man is an even stronger woman, but in what world is Wonder Woman significantly stronger than Superman? So strong, in fact, that she is able to handle two Kryptonians with little issue while Clark gets his ass kicked all over the forest. This time around, Wonder Womans resolve seems to be shaky as to the future of her and Clarks relationship. While it is way too early for them to break up, relationship issues have the potential to effect up to four different publications, depending on how writers portray things. Not to mention that after three issues of Zod, we still don’t really know why he is here or what he was locked in the Phantom Zone for. Despite all of that, this was still a great issue and I am convinced that this is just setup for something big. – R

Injustice: Year Two #2 – B

Injustice has easily become one of the most enjoyable books out. I love how original the story is, and the fact that I really don’t know what comes next is very appealing to me. With Batman out of commission, the people of Earth must look to others to try to stop Superman’s regime. There’s a lot going on in this issue, which hurts it a bit. The last few issue runs felt very focused and I think that helped guide the story much better than skipping around like a television series. I was in no way disappointed in the issue, it just felt like a big lull amidst the incredible action-packed issues preceding it. – S

The Royals: Masters of War #1 – B

In the mood for a spot of tea and a jolly good read?  Why my good lad, you should take romp down to your local comic book shop.  Cheeio!!  Pip-Pip!! God Save the Queen!!  Sorry… I’ll go back to American text now.  The Royals: Masters of War #1 is now on comic shelves.  The setting is London, 1940’s, WWII.  The focus – A royal and lavish British family, the House of Windsor.  Only this royal family is way more exciting than even Prince William, wife Kate and their little bundle of royal joy.  They have superpowers.  Superman with a charming accent?  Swoon m’ladies.  And what’s a better use of kingly superpowers than to stick it to Hitler and his evil regime?  However, the head of House Windsor, Albert, has his children under strict order to never demonstrate the greatness of their unique gifts.  Turns out super powered nobles don’t have the happiest of histories – you know that usual bit about not everyone being welcoming and accepting of those that are “different.”  Thankfully for the citizen of London, not everyone in the House of Windsor agrees with father’s orders.  As the fight is taken to the invading Germans we learn that the Windsor family is not the only “gifted” royal family on the block and it’s likely to spell trouble for both the Windsor family and London.  I’ve got a good feeling about this six part series and it’s unique twist on pivotal events in recent history. – T

Nightwing #28 – B-

I’ve been really impressed with the way writer Kyle Higgins has managed to build a new world for Dick Grayson without using Gotham to lean on; Nightwing has a real home in Chicago, and it’s not just about Tony Zucco (the man who killed his parents). Unfortunately, some of the art seems a little awkward when showing Dick Grayson outside of being Nightwing. This issue pushes things along, as a little girl in his life is thrust into the same situation he was in when his parents died. It’s a really interesting angle, but it was entirely too rushed – for multiple reasons. I wish Higgins would have taken this over the span of an entire six-issue arc, but I can understand where this is going. All while reading this issue, I had a gut-wrenching feeling. After the events that opened up Forever Evil, you know we are building up to a major tragedy in Grayson’s life, but it just won’t come. – S

Justice League 3000 #3 – B-

Takron-Galtos!  The prison planet that has three of the five cloned Justice League members trapped and searching for a way off.  After a nasty encounter with Locus, the reality bending blue-alien tween, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman experience  “Hell” in the year 3000.  The images and artwork showcasing the expanses of Takron-Galtos are awesome.  Porter (artist) has consistently delivered gorgeous landscapes and cityscapes every issue.  It’s one of the most alluring elements of the series.  Whereas the last issue of JL 3000 was a little disjointed, I felt a strong refocusing back on the big picture plot even though the story is being told from various angles.  Bit by bit the mysterious villains are being to reveal themselves. The ever developing and at time hilarious dynamic of the genetically engineered superheroes carries the story well.  There are lots of pieces working in the background and it’s all going to come to a head very soon.  Oh… and Superman is still an ass-hat. – T

Batgirl #28 – C

I finished this issue more confused than when I started reading it. After an enticing Gothtopia issue, it seems as though they’ve completely abandoned the Detective Comics-centric storyline. That wasn’t explained very well and then to snap into the current story with zero mention of the last issue was disappointing to say the least. Barb is back to fighting form and wearing her yellow bat after her self-imposed exile. This new story arc introduces a vampire hunter who is given no real introduction or back story. We also get to experience a nice tag team duo with Barb and Strix that has the potential for some cool moments. I continue to enjoy Batgirl, as usual, and this story arc seems to be like filler until the next major plot line or the next cross over event. I’m personally hoping for the latter. – R

Dark Horse:

Star Wars #14 – C-

As Ensign Nanda continues to tow Vader across the galaxy in what I call an “epiphany quest,” I continue to be underwhelmed by this story arch in the revitalized Star Wars comic series.  Brian Wood’s attempt to highlight the brutal and ruthless nature that so perfectly describes Darth Vader falls far short in my opinion.  On top of that, the last few issues of Star Wars have failed to move the plot along.  No major revelations, twists or epic moments were to be had.  The most redeeming aspect of this 14th installment was getting to see Vader and his super-elite, black-ops Storm Troopers in action.  Even at that, those sequences left more to be desired.  At the conclusion of this issue it appears as though the story is preparing to steer back on track to a likeness similar to the first five or six issues.  There seems to be a ton of Vader focus in Dark Horse comics these recent months.  I hope the oversaturation slows down so that new characters and stories can be shared with all the hungering fans out there!  It is the Will of The Force! – T

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The Walking Dead #121 – B-

Another issue goes by, and a whole lot of nothing happens. I’m not even sure that this will read better in the trade format. Negan has a few inappropriate lines that just make me laugh out loud. He’s the nastiest one in the bunch, and I find myself rooting for him more than I do The Survivors. Meanwhile, Rick has become a caricature of himself, the self-righteous leader. Honestly, it’s like a soap opera, because even though The Walking Dead has given me nothing notable since a main character’s gratuitous death in issue #100, I still keep reading it. Every issue, I just can’t wait to see if our heroes will be about to crawl out of whatever hole they dug themselves into. Well, sigh, this isn’t the one – better luck next time- S

The Fuse #1 – C-

Seriously, what the hell is a cabler?? In what has become tradition with new publications from Image, I left the end of the first issue not really knowing anything that was going on. Unfortunately, unlike Black Science and Deadly Class, I really am not invested in The Fuse. The debut issue takes us to a futuristic planet, not Earth, where we follow a new guy, recently transferred from Munich, and an witty older woman who has been doing this for a long time. Together, they search for the cause of death of these “cablers” around the city. It has kind of a cliche vibe – the buddy cop thing has been done before. To boot, the art looks raw, and not in a good way. It, in no way makes the cut when compared to other Image titles like Walking DeadSaga, and the aforementioned two titles. I’m not turned off yet, but it’s gonna have to take a convincing second issue to get me on-board with The Fuse – S

Marvel:

Superior Spider-Man #27 – B+

Now this is what I’ve been waiting for! Finally, a villain fit for a villain. After Green Goblin had taken control of the Goblin army, he makes his move to tighten his grip in the city. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is swallowing the pill of defeat when he learns of Goblin’s idea to cloak his army from the Spider-Bots that Spidey had created to survey the city. Peter’s consciousness also plays a part in trying to escape his own body’s sub-conscious (props for including the original Doc Ock quote from Amazing Spider-Man #3), but gets sucked even further down the rabbit hole. Everything is going to hell and all that’s left are Otto Octavius and Norman Osbourne, playing chess as the city burns to the ground around them. – S

Kick-Ass 3 #6 – B+

Kick-Ass 3 has been slowly moving along, as Hit-Girl has been imprisoned for the entire six issue run. You know what though? I love Kick-Ass. I love the brutal nature and the realistic portrayal of teens playing vigilante. Most of all, I love the story of Hit-Girl and how her dad trained her as a little girl to be a superhero – and not no “liberal asshole” like Spider-Man. The flashback takes up nearly 3/4 of the issue and I just wish it was longer. Issue #6 also ends on a Mother-F***** of a the cliff-hanger (get it?).  Anybody who can handle the crude language and content of this book written and drawn by legends Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. should pick up this awesome third installment. – S

All-New X-Men #23 – B+

The Trial of Jean Grey has added some much-needed excitement to the series, which has been waning up til recently. Jean Grey is captured by the Shi’ar, an ally race whose planet was destroyed by The Phoenix. Of course, poor Jean Grey has no idea of any of this, as she is a pre-Phoenix version of herself. The Guardians of the Galaxy come to the rescue, conveniently, and are on a rescue mission to save not only Jean, but the series along with her. The writing of Brian Michae lBendis is on point, and there are plenty of hilarious moments in the book. This story is really heating up, and the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy own makes it that much more enjoyable. Throw in the inclusion of a nearly-forgotten fan-favorite, and we’ve got a heck of a family reunion. – S

Deadpool #23 – B

I don’t know how or when it happened, but somewhere between that god-awful issue with the Wakandan alien monsters and here, Deadpool has found his identity in the Marvel NOW! universe. Deadpool vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. draws to a close in this issue, and it does so in epic proportions. It’s a non-stop thrill ride, and I laughed almost the whole way through – mostly at the goons who work for U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. The way particular scenes mirrored Alien (which you could have guessed from the cover) brought it back to the good old days of Merc With A Mouth, which showed Deadpool for what he truly was, a bad-ass and a psycho, but above all, a comedian. – S

All New X-Factor #3 – B

Serval Industries, the company that employs mutants and mission statement is all for the betterment of people finally starts to show a bit of its true nature.  Some questionable acts and curiously unexplained motives are revealed by CEO Harrison Snow through the panels of All New X-Factor #3.  I for one am glad to see this development begin to take shape.  Its final form is definitely going to make this series fly or flounder.  For added juiciness – there appears to be ulterior motive for some of the Serval mutants as well.  I’m anxious to see how it all plays out.  I’m in love with Giandomenico’s pencil work.  Even the small and uneventful panels are nicely detailed and do much to bring life to the page.  The issue was exciting and I’m invested in the grand plot enough to keep money stashed away for the next issue. – T

The Winter Soldier #1 – B-

The debut of Winter Soldier was not really what I was expecting. This initial story goes back to the time when the Winter Soldier was still a myth. It’s hard to tell whether or not this book will be a collection of short stories that involve the Winter Soldier or if it will be a normal story arc. We did get to see some classic Nick Fury action which is nice after all the Sam Jackson portrayals. The art is great and the depiction of the Winter Soldier is much closer to what they have setup for the upcoming Captain America movie. I knew that this book was supposed to come out to give the new Captain America movie some exposure so I can’t help but wonder if the government replacement for the Captain will be present at some time. I am excited to see where this story goes and will definitely keep my eyes on this book. – R

She-Hulk #1 – C-

Damn, I’m pretty disappointed with this book. I don’t know if it’s because I expected something different from the world’s strongest woman or that I’m just not getting the point of this book. I thought a good 90% of it was just so boring. I haven’t seen a wordier comic than this one in such a long time. I don’t think there is anything wrong with comics have tons and tons of dialog, but when there is no action to back it up, it becomes stagnant and boring. Now, I understand that they are trying to transform and introduce a new side to this hero. Rather than follow her superhero career, we follow her lawyer career. That’s all fine and dandy, and I understand it’s nice to see the human aspect to things some times. Call me a poor judge of comics or whatever, but the bottom line is that I didn’t enjoy reading this comic. For others, this will downright be a great read. However, what I read comics for and what I seek to enjoy was nowhere in this comic. The artistic side of the comic made the people look aquatic or fish-like, which was weird. Nothing really popped or stood out. I’ll stop here because I realize I’m going on a rant. Some positives about this book, however: it has the makings to make a pretty good story in the court room and there is a lot of valuable information presented within this comic. Like Hawkeye and Daredevil before it, it is nice to see the human side to our heroes. I’m sorry to say that it simply isn’t enough for me. – E

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 6 B’s and 1 C, averaging out to a 2.86

Marvel Comics: 6 B’s and 1 C, averaging out to a 2.86

Independents: 1 A, 1 B and 2 C’s, averaging out to a 2.75

Funniest Panel of the Week:

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Epic Panel of the Week:

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Cover Art of the Week:

Jerome Opena's Kick-Ass 3 #6 variant
Jerome Opena’s Kick-Ass 3 #6 variant

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif ElkhatibAdrian Puryear, Taylor LoweEvan Lowe and Robert Michael