The following is a selection of comics released this week (7/8/10)* that focus heavily on women in comics – whether that be characters, creators, or even readers.
The books are rated as BUY, TRADEWAIT, or SKIP.
This was a really strong week everyone. Lots of books…lots of good books. And catching up on a few great collections that released recently.
*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.
BATWOMAN: ELEGY (Hardcover Deluxe Edition, collects Detective Comics #854 – 860). Greg Rucka (writer). J.H. Williams III (art). Dave Stewart (colors). DC. 192 pages. $24.99
I can’t say it any clearer than I already did on She Has No Head! but this is the superhero comic that I have been waiting my whole life for. It is nearly perfect. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you already bought the issues, buy this beautiful edition too and keep it on your bookshelf and show it to every person you know that thinks they don’t “get” comics. A beautiful and important work. Here’s hoping that Williams can even come close on his new Batwoman series…which I am SO excited about. BUY, BUY, and BUY some more.
BEASTS OF BURDEN (Hardcover edition, collects Beasts Of Burden #1 – 4). Evan Dorkin (writer). Jill Thompson (art). Dark Horse. 184 pages. $19.99.
Also, highly recommended. I guess it’s technically not “heavily female focused” in that all the characters are dogs and cats, but there are female dogs and cats (as well as male dogs and cats) and all of them are freaking awesome. I was shocked how much I loved this book. But Dorkin’s great writing and Thompson’s stunning pencils make it easy to fall in love. BUY.
ETA: Commenter Hutch mentioned (correctly) that there are extra stories and goodies that collect all of the “beasts of burden” characters – making this a great deal and a must have for any fan of these characters.
WEDNESDAY COMICS (Hardcover edition, collects all 12 issues). Various writers, various artsist. Mark Chiarello (editor). DC. 200 pages. $49.99.
This released in early June, but I neglected to mention it and wanted to rectify that. A BRILLIANT collection of some of the best stories by some of the best writers and artists working today. It’s a beautiful large edition, almost rivaling the beauty of the original oversized newsprint editions, and it’s a must for any comics fan and devoted collector. Plenty of female positivity as well in creator Amanda Conner and characters Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, and Supergirl (just for starters). BUY.
AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #1 (of 9). Allan Heinberg (writer). Jim Cheung (pencils). Mark Morales and Jim Cheung (inks). Justin Ponsor (colors). Marvel. 32-pages. $3.99.
This surprised the hell out of me by being quite good. The art was strong, and the writing, which I was hesitant about because I’m not a big fan of Heinberg’s Wonder Woman run, was quite frankly, excellent. The story has more diversity than we usually get (two female team members, a black team member, an android, a half hulk/half skrull, and an out gay male couple on the team) which while not perfect, feels like it’s getting there. And as a result of that diversity I think it FELT younger and more “hip”. Instead of trying super hard (the way I felt Young Allies did – more on that below) this just felt naturally young and edgy. Additionally the costumes (including the ladies) are all pretty appropriate, as are the body types (considering these are teens) and there’s no crazy male gaze crap going on. The story was quite interesting and a lot happens for a first issue and 22-pages, but really it was the writing that sold me. Strong throughout. An unexpected BUY. I love it when comics surprise me pleasantly.
DEMO VOLUME 2 #6 (of 6). Brian Wood (writer). Becky Cloonan (art). Vertigo. 32-pages. $2.99.
What a high note to end on. This was EXCELLENT. I think, with the exception of maybe issue #3 in which I felt Cloonan delivered the strongest art of her career thus far, this was by far my favorite of the series – which is saying a lot as the entire series was strong. If you didn’t buy Demo all along, it’s worth it to hunt them down. There will also be a collected trade down the line, which I’m sure will be beautiful, but I expect the wait will be significant. While you’re at it, pick up the first collection Demo Volume 1. It’s not necessary to read volume 1 to get and appreciate volume 2, but it’s just excellent reading. For my money I actually prefer volume 2 as I think Cloonan’s art is consistently stronger, but both are excellent works…worthy of the uber talents that Wood and Cloonan have turned into. BUY.
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #2. Jim McCann (writer). David Lopez (pencils). Alvaro Lopez (inks). Nathan Fairbairn (colors). Paul Renaud (cover). Marvel. 32-pages. $2.99.
This continues to be really strong and interesting despite the fact that I’ve really never had an interest in either of these characters prior to this series. Lopez’s art is strong, but I’m reading for McCann’s excellent plotting and solid writing. Keep it up guys and I’ll keep buying. BUY.
I, ZOMBIE #3. Chris Roberson (writer). Michael Allred (artist and cover). Laura Allred (colors). Vertigo. 32-pages. $2.99.
This book continues to be a struggle for me. This issue is better than the first, but not as good as the second. And for some reason…maybe I’m not paying enough attention…the reveal didn’t do much for me. Roberson’s story is just too meandering for my tastes. Which may just be his style as Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love felt the same way to me, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m just not getting enough bang for my buck in each issue…and the concept is not really unique and clever enough to pull the weight for the missing strength in the writing and plotting. The Allreds’ art is still wonderful, some of the best I saw all night (among some great looking books) and that alone is going to save it this week. I’m going to give it a tentative BUY, thanks to the art, but if it doesn’t step up, it’s headed for tradewait status.
SCARLET #1. Brian Michael Bendis (writer). Alex Maleev (art and cover). Icon. 40-pages. $3.95. Only 22 pages of story, but some extras including pin ups of the alternate covers, a letters column/message board, and some pages of script with sketches.
I liked the hell out of this. I don’t love the way Bendis has Scarlet kind of talking to the camera/reader, but I’m sure it’s with purpose and will be significant eventually. The art (I’m a big fan of Maleev) is absolutely fantastic…a little dark for my tastes but wonderful nonetheless. These two are excellent collaborators and it shows – the great merging of words and pictures in the hands of two creators that like working together and speak an almost secret language. Scarlet is well-positioned already to be a really strong and interesting character (also, her hair is AWESOME). I don’t know that the idea behind Scarlet (thus far at least) is the most original idea I’ve ever seen, but in Bendis and Maleev’s hands I’m sure it will be excellently executed. I’m in. BUY.
TAILS OF THE PET AVENGERS: THE DOGS OF SUMMER (One-shot). Chris Eliopoulos (writer). Chris Eliopoulos, Ig Guara, Mark Sumerak (art). L. Molinar, Chris Sotomayor, Brad Anderson (colors). Marvel. 40-pages. $3.99.
Truth be told this doesn’t really belong on a “heavily female focused list”…at all. But it was so fun I wanted to recommend it anyway. Beware that two stories were originally published elsewhere and thus might be repeats. But there are four totally fun stories here. Three very cartoon-y in style and one more traditional comic book superhero style (whatever the hell that means). But all, thanks to hilarious really strong writing by Elipoulos, are just freaking delightful. BUY.
THOR AND THE WARRIORS FOUR #4 (of 4). Alex Zalben (writer). Gurihiru (art). Secondary story: The Twelve Labors of The Babysitter: Colleen Coover (writer/artist). Marvel. 32-pages. $2.99.
Wonderful adorable totally fun stuff. Gurihiru’s art is just phenomenal (as is Coover’s in her tale) and Zalben’s writing is funny and right on point. Adorable. If you have kids, totally get this, if you just want to have fun reading some fun comics, get it even if you don’t have kids. BUY.
YOUNG ALLIES #2. Sean McKeever (writer). David Baldeon (pencils). N. Bowling (inks). Chris Sotomayor (colors). David LaFuente and Morry Hollowell (cover). Marvel. 32-pages. $2.99.
This just isn’t working for me. I wish it was because it’s got some interesting female characters and there’s little to no objectification in the book, and the art is strong overall, so I feel like in that way I could easily recommend it. But the story is just not going anywhere and the writing just reeks to me of trying too hard. Trying too hard to be young…current…edgy…pick a word, any of them will do. And as a result it feels anything but. The characters name drop the internet, facebook, tweeting…and it all just feels so very forced and unnatural to me. Additionally there’s not anything that interesting going on plotting wise and I’m having trouble finding a reason to care or connect with any of these “heroes”. Even more problematic is that the villains seem more interesting than our heroes. It’s true that the villain makes the hero…but not when he/she feels MORE intriguing than the hero. That’s trouble. This is an unfortunate SKIP.
X-WOMEN (one shot). Chris Claremont (writer). Milo Manara (art). Dave Stewart (colors). Marvel. 64-pages. $4.99.
Here’s the thing about this…I feel like you’re going to be disappointed no matter what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for some sexy titillation (and there’s nothing inherently wrong in that as far as I’m concerned)…you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to be disappointed because other than some silly looking awkward girl on girl hugs, some really bad open mouthed “sexy-face”, some vague innuendo, and a few skimpy outfits (which are not much different than what you get in your average superhero comics – in fact, Rogue is wearing MORE clothes here most of the time than she gets to in her regular stories) there’s nothing much here to titillate. I mean, maybe it just takes a lot to titillate me these days, but some really light bondage and silly hugs just don’t get me going. Maybe if you’re 15 this will do it for you…I don’t know.
And if you’re looking for a good, well-written adventure story with some of your favorite superhero ladies this is DEFINITELY not going to please you as it’s just flat out not good. It’s really heavy on the narration (never a good sign) and plot is unwieldy, horribly unbelievable, wildly convenient when it needs to be and just…weird. Though Manara’s art is lovely, the vacant porno faces makes the scenes where ‘acting’ is required (which are many) laughable. Near the end, the story, which barely worked to begin with, kind of falls apart entirely (Psylocke doesn’t have the time to shoot an escaping villain while the villain recites two word balloons of text? Ooookay) and I’m left wondering if this is what happens when you try to force strange non-sexy sexiness into an adventure story when it doesn’t naturally fit…all sense is lost? The voices for the characters for the most part felt totally off to me, with a few small exceptions (Rogue, Emma, and Besty felt especially off) and there’s entirely too much of the forced “you know it girlfriend!” and “I like your style girl!” which dates it horribly as far as I’m concerned. But maybe that’s what happens when you make your superhero characters behave as they wouldn’t behave in order to try to titillate fans? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it doesn’t really work on any level…maybe if you don’t care about the characters and only view them as cipher fantasies…maybe then it works? I’m still not sure it works even then.
There’s not a single woman involved in this book. Coincidence? I think not. (edited to add: there is a Sara Mattoli mentioned in a “special thanks” section with but it doesn’t say what for…?)
Additionally, while I have no problem with this book in theory (and truth be told I actually like me some naughty porn comics – don’t ask) as DCwomenkickingass mentioned in a post (or tumble? whatever. I’m too old to learn new things!) the other day, it seems like piss poor timing to put this book out smack in the middle of the “Year of Marvel Women”. The afterward by Joe Quesada full of wild praise also seems in particularly poor taste considering his history with not taking female fans concerns seriously. Not that I think this book is ever a good idea considering it’s not really good and will offend a lot fans, but could this really not have waited another year so that there was less of a crappy mixed message during this “year of marvel women”? Seems like a real marketing mistake to me…but what do I know? I know to SKIP this stupid book that’s what.
EDIT: I still haven’t gotten my hands on The Last Unicorn #2 or Ghost Projekt #3, but hopefully I can track them down and reviews will be forthcoming.