The following is a selection of comics released this week (6/16/10)* that focus heavily on women in comics – whether that be characters, creators, or even readers.
The books are rated as BUY, TRADEWAIT, or SKIP.
*It should be noted that this list will focus on North American/English releases as that’s mostly what I have access to. Additionally, as I am in general unfamiliar with Manga, I will not be including Manga titles in my lists. For some great reviews and discussion of Manga titles I urge you to check out Danielle Leigh on CSBG.
BIRDS OF PREY #2. Gail Simone (writer). Ed Benes and Adriana Melo (pencils). Ed Benes and Mariah Benes (inks). Nei Ruffino (colors). Ed Benes and Nei Ruffino (cover). DC. 32 Pages. $2.99
Ugh. What to say? I have to be honest. I don’t love this. I thought this issue was hands and feet above the last issue…which I really disliked. So that gives me hope that we’re at least headed in the right direction…but I’m very frustrated by this as it’s a book I WANT to love. Despite the fact that I worship at the altar of Gail Simone regularly, I had a lot of problems with her writing (and story/plotting) in the first issue…I feel like she’s back on her feet here though…a lot of strong character voices and some funny dialogue that really fits her style and the BoP style that she helped create, and while the issue is still action packed to say the least, she’s doing less than she tried to do in the first issue, which I think is good.
The problem with this issue is the art. I’m not a Benes fan to begin with, he’s very heavy with the male gaze and T&A, but I try to mentally prepare myself for that when I come into this book. But T&A aside, this just looked really rough to me…perhaps because there were two pencilers and two inkers…which makes it uneven at best to read. In addition it was overly dark and not well paced…the storytelling was often hard to follow and impossible to get invested in. I caught myself many times wondering how drastically different/better this book would be with a more consistent cleaner artist on it – preferably one that treads lightly on T&A – because when of your three main characters you have fishnets, a mini-skirt, hot pants, and a bare midriff between them you don’t need EXTRA T&A. I mean…CLIFF CHIANG. Imagine if Cliff Chiang was drawing this book…it would be like a whole new book! All that said, I am loathe to list this as a tradewait, because that’s how books get canceled and I’ve waited SO LONG FOR BOP TO COME BACK!!! So I can’t do it…I’m listing it as a BUY, but with heavy reservations. Support the book, hope that we get a new artist, that’s all I can say.
ETA: I should also mention that there is a lot of controversy over this issue because of the apparent death of a character…I know very little about that character and didn’t understand all the ramifications until now. I’m still a bit on the outside here, so am not going to make any judgments at this time, but I thought it should be noted that big percentage of readers are finding the issue very offensive.
BLACK WIDOW #3. Marjorie Liu (writer). Daniel Acuna (art). Marvel. 32 pages. $2.99.
This book, after a rough start out of the gate (mostly in the form of one really sexist cover and one slightly less sexist cover) is turning out FANTASTIC. I’ve been enjoying the story all along and both writing and interior art have been solid, but this issue really sold me. The art especially was stunning…completely gorgeous while also being paced well and good with action (and you need to be good with action when you’re having Black Widow and Elektra battle it out). Personally the colors are a bit dark for my tastes, but I can admit that the darkness fits both the character and tone of the story and it was still freaking beautiful. This is so far above and beyond the two Black Widow mini-series we got this past winter (one of which was far better than the other, but neither of which were impressive) that I was actually really sorry to learn this week that we have only two issues left with Liu and Acuna before we get a creative team switch. I don’t know why the change is happening but it strikes me as a bad idea…this is one of the best new books I’m reading…which is freaking hard to do in this market, especially with a female lead character. If you haven’t been reading this book, we’re still not that far in, so get on board. BUY.
DV8 #3 (of 8). Brian Wood (writer). Rebekah Isaacs (art). Carrie Strachan (colors). Fiona Staples (cover). Wildstorm. 32 pages. $2.99
Another excellent entry into Wood’s DV8 re-imagining. This issue focuses on Powerhaus (as pictured) and as such isn’t AS female focused as other issues have been (which is fine of course). The art by Issacs and Strachan remains top notch and Wood’s writing is strong and his pacing feels right on target to drive this story home with real satisfaction in the time we have left. I catch myself every month wishing this was an ongoing. Any chance of that Mr. Wood? BUY.
FABLES #96. Bill Willingham (writer). Mark Buckingham (pencils). Steve Liealoha & Andrew Pepoy (inks). Lee Loughridge (colors). Joao Ruas (cover). Vertigo. 32 pages. $2.99.
Part two of retelling the story of Snow White and Rose Red, and while the art is lovely (as always) there’s really not much of interest here. If you know the Snow White and Rose Red fairytales then this is pretty much a graphic retelling of that (with a couple slight twists). Overall I was a little disappointed…I expected more. And while I know that Willingham isn’t interested in delving too deeply into Snow White’s story here as this is supposed to be setting up a massive Rose Red arc…the reality is that I found it in really poor taste for him to suggest the repeated rape of Snow White by the dwarves (as is also suggested in 1001 Nights of Snowfall) in one line and then to dance away from it and not really address it. I know it’s not the point of the story…but surely there was a way to either write around this, or actually deal with it…at least a little. I’m a big fan of Fables and if you’re a completest who has been reading, certainly by all means buy it, but if you’re a new reader looking to jump on I’d wait…and if you don’t care about having every issue…this is one you can honestly skip without missing much. SKIP.
HARLEY QUINN: JOKERS ASYLUM II #1 (one-shot). James Patrick (writer). Joe Quinones (art). Alex Sinclair (colors). Claudio Castellini (cover). DC. 32 pages. $2.99.
If you can get past the super male gaze-y T&A cover then you’ll find a solid little Harley story, and some art that is both lovely and largely devoid of male gaze (yay!). The story, wisely, does not try to do too much since it only has 22 pages to get in and out. Harley breaks out of Arkham to see her puddin’ (Joker for those of you asleep for the past 10+ years) for Valentine’s Day, only to find him kidnapped and up for auction to his enemies. It’s solid writing and art all the way through with an ending that has a little twist that I didn’t see coming…which is nice…and sadly, rare. Patrick has a really solid handle on Harley’s voice (a favorite line? “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and makes a six-inch-diameter exit wound in you.” Gotta love Harley). It’s true that Harley comes with a decidedly un-feminist character trait (i.e. that she’s cocoa for Joker puffs) but if you can accept that (and you should there are many other facets to Harley beyond it) this is a fun little book. This is a rare one-shot worth buying I think, especially at the $2.99 price, which is reasonable. BUY.
HERALDS #3 (of 5). Kathryn Immonen (writer). Tonci Zonjic and James Harren (art). Nathan Fairbairn and June Chung (colors). Jelena Djurdjevic (cover). Marvel. 32 pages. $2.99.
Heralds delivered another solid issue, if not the slam dunk like I felt for the first issue. Immonen is handling the massive character list she’s dealing with well – she’s added The Fantastic Four – including Valeria Franklin to the cast this week – which is significant. But she’s still got a solid hold on all the voices, and she’s keeping the plotting in check. I wish – and this is really just my desire to read more about these characters – but I wish we were getting more She-Hulk and Valkyrie (and maybe Abigail Brand) but Immonen’s only got so many pages. The art by Zonjic and Harren is still excellent and seems less jarring to me this week than last week (maybe I’m just getting used to it?). BUY.
HER-OES #3 (of 4). Grace Randolph (writer). Craig Rousseau (art). Veronica Gandini (colors). Sara Pichelli and Veronica Gandini (cover). Marvel. 32 pages. $2.99.
This is moving along nicely. I’m still not sure how we’re going to finish out the arc and tie everything up without rushing the ending, and I’m not entirely convinced I’m going to get a resolution on the “normal” things that were going on in Janet’s life like her potential date and costumes for the school play – but maybe that will be part of the point? An interesting plot point was revealed in this issue that made everything a little more believable if you were having trouble buying that Namora, Wasp, She-Hulk, and Carol Danvers (etc.) all went to the same high school; and the last page of the issue is really fun and rewarding. There’s also a really wonderful thing being done here that I want to mention, which is that when Jennifer Walters hulks out she looks like a freaking monster (and more as regular Hulk does) rather than the stone cold fox version that usually happens to She-Hulk in comics. It’s a somewhat subtle (not the actual drawings) but important choice and it deserves some recognition. Unfortunately the art overall is still not quite coming together. I like the style (which skews more cartoony) but it continues to play a little fast and loose with details and perspective and anatomy in an unfortunate way. That said, it’s still a solid little mini-series and certainly very female positive. If you’ve already been picking it up, keep doing so, if you’ve been waiting to see…I list this as a solid TRADEWAIT.
THE BLACK CAT #1 (of 4). Jen Van Meter (writer). Javier Pulido (art). Matt Hollingsworth (colors). Amanda Conner and Christina Strain (cover). Marvel. 40 pages. $3.99.
I liked this quite a bit. Van Meter has a great hold on what makes Black Cat so charming and vibrant and likable despite her often non-hero-ish status. The story is interesting, and even though it’s a mini-series that will likely mean nothing in the long haul I find myself invested and curious – two great things to be at the start of a mini-series. It also felt kind of nicely adult…with Peter and Felicia meeting up clandestinely at a hotel being renovated for a little afternoon delight. The art inside is probably a little on the loose sketchy side for most people but I liked it and thought it not only fit the story well, but also nicely played down the “Felicia as constant sex kitten thing” that I’m so weary of. BUY.
TINY TITANS #29. Art Baltazar (writer and artist). Franco (writer). DC. 32 pages. $2.50
This comic is absolutely adorable. And “Babysitting Crisis Of Infinite Toddlers” as a title will certainly give adults a chuckle. This is a great female positive (and male positive) book for kids. It’s the first time I’ve read it, but I don’t have to wonder why it won an Eisner for best publication for kids. If you have kids, or want to O.D. on cuteness, this is a BUY.
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