Monday, November 05, 2012

Comics review

I only got 1 real paper comci this week, but I did get a lot of digital ones.  Spoilers ahead for Ultimate Spider-Man 16.1, Ame-Comic Girls 1 to 8, Smallville 16-21 and Batman: L'il Gotham.

Ultimate Spider-Man 16.1
First things first - the paper that marvel print this comic on is wonderful.  It's slightly rough to the touch and it just feels glorious.
I have no idea why this issue number is 16.1 and not 17.  I'm guessing there's a link to the Marvel Now shenanigans, but I'm not really familiar with that.
This is a decent issue, with barely any Miles in it.  It's about Betty Brant and her career.  She works out there's a connection between the new Spider-Man and the Prowler.  However she decides that Spider-Man is Miles' Dad, not Miles.  This seems pretty daft to me considering the massive difference in stature of a 13 year old boy and a 30 something man.  She tries to sell her story to various news outlets and then the Venom symbiote turns up.  Although I suppose it's now Carnage, as it's not bonded with Peter Parker.
So I guess this is more of an interlude than part of the regular story.  Betty's detective skills make for a good story, so this works.

Ame-Come Girls 1 to 8

I finally got round to downloading these issues.  I love this series.  I was a bit dubious when it was announced because of the awfulness of many of the figures it's based on.  But this has been a delight.  Although some of the statues are horrifically sexist, the series as a whole isn't.

The basic premise is this is an earth where only women are heroes.  No male heroes.  Zilch.  This means that the women fulfil the roles men do in usual continuity.  This means that Power Girl is the most respected, adored hero on earth.  Jimmy Olsen looks up to her.  This means Batgirl is the best detective.  Alfred works for her.  This means Duela Dent is the most terrifying, sadistic villain imaginable.  Robin is not lesser because she's a girl, instead the partnership with Batgirl is of equals.  Supergirl is more adult, more mature, more in control of her life.  Brainiac is female and power crazed, but without sexual, hormonal shit.  Jade is the person with no fear and is the Green Lantern's first choice.  The Lantern who bequeathed her the ring is female.

The women aren't sidelined, aren't of less importance, aren't given romantic plotlines.  No, the action revolves around them and they are the drivers of the story.  It's fantastic.  Even the skimpy costumes take on a different meaning when there aren't male heroes around to contrast with.  It's a breath of fresh air and it's what female centric comics should be.

Having said all that, when Star Sapphire is introduced (through Carol Ferris being an ASTRONAUT, IN SPACE - how many times have women been the explorers and scientists in regular comics?) she is given a ridiculous skimpy costume which does make me cringe a bit.  Although I am now hoping that she and Jade will have a love/love relationship.  On the plus side, when Wonder Woman is given her first diplomatic costume she does decry it as demeaning bullshit and from then on wears the armour seen in the above scan.

The series was started with 4 spotlights on individual characters - Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Duela Dent, Power Girl and Supergirl.  Wonder Woman looks at how Diana comes to America and forms a pact with the American government.  Batgirl and Duela Dent go hand in hand (showing the Joker as a low level thug, not the most feared psycho we are used to, no, that role is for Duela) and starts setting up for the full series.  We get introduced us to Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn Steel and Brainiac, who Duela is working with.  Power Girl has Kara saving the day in metropolis then fighting Lex Luthor.  At the end, another visitor from Krypton arrives, and we segue into SupergirlSupergirl crashes to earth with Brainiac's army close behind.  Both Kara's try to stop them, but Brainiac has other plans.

Then the Ame-Comi series starts proper.  issues 1 to 6 have all the heroes, led by Wonder Woman (because she says that's what's going to happen) band together to fight Brainiac and save the earth.  Issues 7 and 8 introduce Jade as this sector's Green Lantern, which leads to Star sapphire and me cringing at her barely there costume.  DC seem to conflate love with sex.  It's very irritating.

Continuing the sexy theme, there's the art.  It's done in a manga style, which is driven by the style of the original figures, and while manga is not by any means 'a style', and is instead a broad descriptor covering a whole range of styles, this series has gone for the slightly sexy look.  There are different artists per story arc - Eduardo Francisco for Ame-Comi Girls issues 1-6, Santi Casas for Ame-Comi Girls issues 7-8 and the Supergirl issue, Amanda Connor for Wonder Woman, Sanford Greene for Batgirl, Ted Naifah for Duela Dent and Michael Bowden for Peej.  Each has a distinct style but all are cartoony.  All treat their subjects with respect and make them fully rounded people, not ciphers (my new favourite word).

This series holds women up as heroes in a way few others do.  I would have no problem giving this series to children to read.  The women are brilliant.  This is brilliant.  You need to be reading this.

Smallville 16-21
This is my other favourite current series.  It's no secret that I adore the Smallville TV series.  I know it's not clever, I know it's very different to any comic incarnation.  I know it's angsty and teen drama-y I know it's cliched.  It also has fabulous moments.  It has one of the most perfect Lois Lane's I have ever seen.  It's Justice League episodes, Booster Gold Episode, Krypto, Zatanna eipsodes were brilliant.  Supergirl was amazing, and older and more experienced and better at being a hero than Clark was. The ending of season 10 was awful.  But nevermind.

So, I've been buying season 11 on comixology.  It's great.   It's got the voice of the Smallville cast done perfectly and issue 13 introduces Batman and Nightwing (sadly not Steph, but Babs instead).

It's wonderful.  If you ever enjoyed any little bit of the TV show you should be reading this.  If you like Superman/Batman interactions you should be reading this.  It's fab.

Batman: L'il Gotham
This was DC's Halloween special and it's just adorable!  It's basically about Damien discovering the meaning of Halloween, and that you can't just steal other kids' sweets.

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