Comic Book Reviews 12-03-14

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:

Detective Comics #37
Detective Comics #37

Detective Comics #37 – A

It could be the name, or the silly costume he had in the 80’s, but Anarky has never been taken seriously as a villain. That all changes in Detective Comics #37, thanks to a great set-up story by Francis Manapul and phenomenal artwork by Brian Buccellato. This creative team has completely resurrected the series and their work is just as morbid and suspenseful as it is visually stunning. There’s also a bit of Gotham Central flowing through its veins, as a large chunk of the story follows Harvey Bullock – a heavily misused character in the New52. This is the perfect jumping on point for a new reader, so if you’re willing to take a gamble that you might actually enjoy a Batman book that doesn’t have Snyder or Capullo on it, this is the one to bet on. – Sherif

Other Reviews: 

Dark Horse Comics:

Hellboy and the BPRD #1 – B

Sadly, the prequel to the Hellboy we should all know and love left me unsatisfied. While I’m sure this series will really find its roots and become grounded, I am not so impressed, but still pretty interested. The first issue moves slowly, which I understand is necessary for exposition, it just didn’t quite grab me the way I wanted it to, being a big fan of Hellboy. There were definitely some hints of way more interesting things to come, what with conspiracies and the origins of why Rasputin summoned Hellboy, and some sort of big bad down in a Brazilian prison. I’m sure this series will take off, and I’m very excited to see which beasties present themselves, the first issue just didn’t hook me. Perhaps that is because Hellboy himself had barely any “page time.” Panel time? He was barely in the book and he said almost nothing. It was kind of disappointing, to say the least. Either way, I still have mostly fond feelings for this book, but that could be because of my existing love of the character and possibly a fool’s faith that I know this will turn out awesome. – Keriann

Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone #3 – C

It took approximately 10 issues for a so-so issue of Fire and Stone to hit comic book shelves. Now that the shock value of witnessing the after effects of direct contact with the mysterious, black alien-goo has passed, there’s a little more room to scrutinize the other aspects of this very well-conceived story arc.   First off – this issue is solid! I liked it. It lives up to its predecessors well and continued to hold my attention. The only reason I graded it the way I did is because none of this seems to fit anymore. I could be missing something, but it seems like the events occurring on the Geryon aren’t apart of the Fire and Stone storyline anymore. Yes – the accelerant is crazy. Yes – you all want to kill each other. I’ve got all that down already. I wanted more surprises and twist and continuity. Like I said – it’s still wildly entertaining, but feels pretty aimless. There’s only one issue left in the AVP portion of Fire and Stone. It undoubtedly will be a gory and unsettling bloodbath. High five!!! – Taylor

DC/Vertigo: 

Secret Six #1 – B+

(B+) Gail Simone is back, and not only is she working on another DC title, but it’s the New52 reboot of one of the best titles out. Gail Simone’s Secret Six was extremely revered by the entire spectrum of comic book fans, so when I heard that it was being rebooted, I couldn’t wait to read it. The team is a bit different than in the original, although Catman makes a return. The rest of the misfit team is rounded out by other obscure characters that hope to add some flavor to the mix; Strix from Simone’s Batgirl run also makes an entrance. The first issue doesn’t reveal much, but there’s a Suicide Squad vibe, as well as a little Saw thrown in for good measure. If this can prove to deviate from what’s already out there, I have no doubt that Gail Simone will do great things with Secret Six. – Sherif

(B-) Color me intrigued. I can’t help but feel like the general set up is a familiar one (Is this a B-List Suicide Squad?), yet I’m pulled in just the same. This comic is mostly plot set up, a touch of story, and absolutely no character development. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and hope the story and characters will come later this being a serialized medium and all. The art is a little involved for my taste but that’s more personal preference than anything else. I must admit: I never followed the original Secret Six. As such, I have no idea who these characters are, but I’d definitely like to know more. – Moke

Batman Eternal #35 – B-

Through nearly nine months of Batman: Eternal, one thing has become abundantly clear – this book does not need 52 issues. More of a drunken ode to the Dark Knight, Eternal has rolled more eyes than heads. Finally though, we’re getting to the juicy stuff. Jason Bard is more than meets the eye, and it seems like we finally get to find out what that is. Maybe, eventually. It sounds very promising but I don’t know that we won’t continue to get jerked around for another dozen issues before we figure out what’s really going on because there are just too many convoluted storylines taking place on top of one another. I’m still convinced this mega-story can shock and awe, but less convinced that they needed 52 issues to do it in. – Sherif

Gotham Academy #3 – B-

While this book can get very tweeny, the art is incredible, and the reason for the high grade this month.  At times it feels like Thomas Kinkade may be going under a pseudonym and drawing/coloring this book.  I cannot get over the scenery from panel to panel.  It really never misses a beat.  The colorists, Geyser, Msassyk and Serge LaPointe, should be HIGHLY commended on their contribution to the art of Karl Kerschl.  And while I do find the story more apt for a 12 year-old girl rather than a 27 year-old woman, I also have to realize that I am a 27 year-old woman who is still reading comic books.  That being said, the story involves a lot of boy problems, but I like that this group of misfit teenagers is like a Scooby-Gang, and who doesn’t love a Scooby-Gang?! – Adrian

Wolf Moon #1 – C

(B) Personally, I liked this book.  Because it is a Vertigo title, it gets the DC flavor, but with an “Image” twist, if you will.  Wolf Moon follows Dillon who is on the hunt for a werewolf.  But not just any werewolf; this one jumps from host to host from month to month.  I have never been too big on the werewolf story, but this one intrigues me, particularly because Dillon was infected himself once.  Hence his mission.  The art, particularly the coloring, was clean and crisp.  This is a mini-series, so if you are looking to get into comics, but don’t want a big commitment, I suggest starting here.  Plus it feels like a mix of Buffy/Angel/and Supernatural.  – Adrian

(D) Eh, the art really sucks. Sorry to be such an ass about it. Everything is so vague and quickly drawn that I can’t really get a feel for the environment, the setting, or the characters. I can’t even really see what the character reactions are to one another. Just disappointed. The cover art was amazing, but the rest of the book doesn’t live up to it. And the story isn’t much better. Trite, cliché, and boring. It kinda reads like a bad spin off episode of Supernatural. I almost gave up on it after four pages. It does get better towards the end, the story that is. But I don’t know if I’ll have enough cares to read the next one. – Jené

Dynamite Entertainment:

Shaft #1 – A-

I won’t lie; when I first heard that Dynamite Entertainment was coming out with a Shaft series, I was worried that it would be just like the recently-resurrected IDW comic book, Black Dynamite, only not funny. Well, Shaft proved that it doesn’t need to rely on simple-minded humor to make a story. And it’s easy to forget that Shaft was one bad man in the days of pulp movies and Blaxploitation that his courage to stand up for himself and fight had more of an impact than a Whorefanage ever could. This is the origin of John Shaft, and you should care because it’s not only entertaining, but inspiring. – Sherif

Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 – D

I don’t get the point of modeling the comic off the 1970’s version of Battlestar Galactica at all. Maybe I just can’t appreciate the retro feel to it, but I’ve always liked the newer version of Apollo compared to his previous counterpart. Whether it’s my thing of yours, it does still capture the essence of a throwback comic, and for that, I have respect for what the authors are doing with it. At first it seems that fleet haven’t been in contact with the Cylons for a while, and everyone is enjoying a level of peace, which is until, dunt, dunt duuuuhhhh they’re still being hunted by them. The title and the trite dialogue between Starbuck and Apollo give the plot away and with it takes my interest. This comic was meh. A take it or leave it read. – Jené

IDW Comics:

X-Files Season 10 #19 – B-

A new artist and a new story arc come into X-Files this month! I have to say I absolutely love Tom Mandrakes style of art from the get-go, but it does change drastically from panel to panel where the likenesses of people very easily disappear if he draws them from a certain angle. As far as story, we get lots of the Cigarette Smoking Man, Some daddy issues with Mulder, and a super drug created by the government called G-23 and of course Langley from the Lone Gunmen wants to try it. This sets up what could be an insane story and be exactly like they say in this issue, “…stranger than the plot of any Cheech and Chong movie.” I would definitely try and pick this issue up as it is a good place to jump into this series and will likely be the craziest arc yet. – Jacob

Image Comics:

Nailbiter #8 – A

The last issue of Nailbiter eluded to there being bees this month and they did not disappoint. There were bees, but I was kind of expecting some new serial killer who kills people with bees! But what I got was a weird old man in a basement dissecting bees to learn their secrets while singing a children’s song to himself. Insanely creepy, but not quite what I was expecting, and yet still good – as always. Nailbiter is a book that, so far, has not let me down when the new issue comes out. The main storyline was hashed out a little more this month as Finch continued his quest to find out what happened to Carroll, and the townspeople of Buckaroo begin to band together in a false fashion against whatever it may be that makes serial killers out of its residents. It was not the most action packed issue, and this time around there was basically no gore which to me is just a testament to how great the writing really is. Joshua Williamson keeps me captivated, what can I say? Well, I guess I can say this series is great and you should be reading it. – Keriann

Birthright #3 – B+

The third issue of Birthright all but makes up for the slower pace of the last issue. This time around, I got completely hooked again. There was finally a face to face introduction to one of the bad guys that Mikey must face in Terranos, and some terrifying fantastical beasts. I began to worry about this series because I found myself not so interested in the Terranos story, the characters seemed kind of unlikeable and I just kind of felt bad for poor basically kidnapped Mikey. I still feel bad for Mikey, but the Gideon kids seem less like cliché jerks and the universe in itself just feels much more exciting. I really like the way the book is split between the modern reality and flashbacks to Mikey’s life in the alternate realm, the transitions are really well timed within the storyline. I could ramble on, but it may be easier to just sum things up with this: Birthright is awesome, and I’m excited to read it. – Keriann

The Humans #2 – B

The Humans, for being a book about a bunch of murderous drug-addled biker chimps screwing each other, is charming. It clearly smacks of 70’s animation, particularly the Ralph Bakshi variety, that featured animals as human analogues in all their boozing, drugging, sexing glory in a way that makes it feel like 70’s noir, if such a thing exists. Not just that, its use of colors and lines sticking to Earth tones and an economy of line where just enough is given to make the chimps emotional and relatable. It manages that balance struck by things like Godfather and Vikings where you care about beings who are, by all accounts, garbage people. Issue 2 was a good read; we don’t really know who Johnny is or his significance to the group, but he’s back from Vietnam and he’s miserable. And what’s the deal with the chimp that, apparently, carts a human sex slave with him? There’s some subtle horror buried there. – J.H.

God Hates Astronauts #4 – C

(B) I will be really, really sad when this series is over. God Hates Astronauts has been and continues to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. From cover to cover, I wear a gigantic smile. On the pages were I’m not smiling I’m laughing hysterically. Even the goofy advertisements and the “fan” content at the end are great. There are a few consistency flaws in the story – maybe not flaws – more like grievances. Some of the character storylines have nothing to do with the events of the upcoming war. In fact, most character storylines seem to have no connection to the greater event at hand. The part of my brain that generates laughter hopes this means spinoffs and continuations! And ultimately, it really doesn’t flipping matter (I think I said that last review). Even if these events and people are just randomly sewn together, it still makes for a very entertaining read. I can’t wait to read the next issue titled “All Out War!” I never thought I’d say something like this but, I’m actually really looking forward to this war. – Taylor

(D) Ugh. What the hell, God Hates Astronauts? What the hell? I feel like Ryan Browne has written a comic that’s review-proof. I can’t help but feel 2 things: 1. Browne is desperately trying to be Axe Cop without the five year-old writer that makes Axe Cop interesting. Without that, I feel like this book is full of the world’s worst commentary on… nothing? 2. I know the current releases are a sequel, or at least a second volume. Does the first explain anything about what’s happening to me? Does anyone read this and get it or think it’s funny? Please for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus say something! Convince me why this deserves an A and not an F! Because as good as the art can be, and as close to funny as the writing gets (without ever really crossing over), I can’t help but feel this book deserves a D, at the most. – JH

Marvel:

Angela – Asgard’s Assassin #1 – A

 I love bad-ass things. I also love women. Hence, I was quite smitten with the premiere issue of Angela – Asgard’s Assassin. I picked up this comic this week for no other reason than because the word “Assassin” is in the title – honestly! I had no idea who Angela was or where she came from or what her abilities were. But after reading just one issue, I can tell you she is a very infection character. Her past is rich (of which we get a brief glimpse) and she has impressive skills. She’s no nonsense, very lethal and has a very rigid mind-frame. The bounty hunter/highest bidder angle she wears on her sleeve (if she wore sleeves) is way cool and adds depth to her character. I generally enjoy Thor & Loki based stories; I mean, who doesn’t?! But after strong reflection I, personally, have a new top contender for favorite Asgardian (just one issue!!). This one is a solid read people. – Taylor

Deadpool #38 – B

Well, good ol’ Zenpool, as he is being called, is helping everyone and politely asking for names and writing them down on a list. Yeah, not the normal Deadpool you are used to but it sure gives us an interesting take on The Faux-Men, Shikla, the evil X-Men and Avengers, and Deadpool himself – being the most at peace while the planet is in utter chaos. In this issue, we see Deadpool trying to escape the X-Mansion with the Faux-Men and trying to get them to safety and also trying to work on things with his wife, Shikla. The latter of which is really not working out with the whole save the world without violence Deadpool we have. Mike Hawthorne does a great job on the art and the vintage cover done by David Nakayama is awesome! I would say definitely pick this one up as this story arc is definitely proving to be another great one by Posehn and Duggan. – Jacob

Thanos vs. Hulk #1 – B-

Let’s get to it already!!!! Ok, ok, ok, I get it; the big rumble probably won’t come until much later, but I’ve got to say… I really don’t care too much about the setup of this story. I just want to see them fight!!! The grown up in me really wants to understand how these two are going to match up evenly, but my inner twelve-year old really just wants to see the carnage. Nothing bad to say about the art, and the panels between Maria Hill and Tony Stark are sure contenders for funniest panels of the week…. But who cares!? I only signed up to see Hulk smash!!! – Moke

Legendary Star-Lord #6 – C-

Star Lord is the new Indiana Jones – and not just in what he does, but in popularity, too. That is the only reason Marvel can pull off an entire episode where Quill is on a date with Kitty Pryde’s hologram and must make all the moves while ducking various mercenaries trying to collect a bounty on his head. Or at least they can try. This issue was so fluffy and boring, and the humor is laid on thicker than the frosting on a grocery store white cake. It’s sad because I actually dig the relationship between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde, but it’s one that doesn’t need to be forced – and one that is served better as a side story in a team book (ala Guardians of the Galaxy or All-New X-Men). – Sherif

Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3 – C-

I have not been the biggest fan of this series at all; although, it does seem to be getting better with each issue. We are following a group of super-powered being made to try and recreate Wolverine and in this issue they are trying to track down Sabretooth to get information and maybe some help. Ultimately, we get some insight into the characters you still don’t know or care about, but it finally brings the story to a point where I would say you should try and read this issue if you want the whole Death of Wolverine story; still, I would not recommend it to anyone not trying to read every Wolverine thing now. – Jacob

Funniest Panel:

Secret Six #1
Secret Six #1

 

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

Birthright #3
Birthright #3

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, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

“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.

biz preach

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.

Simone-AX15

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.

secret-six-31

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.

batgirl-2

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