#ThemysciraThursday Comic Book Review: The Legend of Wonder Woman #1-9

(Rejoice, Kinky Ho-s, as our long awaited Wondy movie is now just around the corner…Prasie Hera! 😉 Here to help us get properly prepped for the Wondrousness is our resident SuperheoSciFi Guru, Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“On the hidden island of Themyscira, the Amazons, led by Queen Hippolyta, live in a kingdom of peace, protected by the gods. But the balance is upset when Hippolyta is granted what no immortal may have: a child, given life from the clay of the island. She is the princess Diana, who alone can sense the evil that is infesting the Amazon’s home.” (DC Entertainment)

The first nine issues of this digital first comic book retrace Wonder Woman’s origins and time on Themyscira. Many elements from the other Wonder Woman origin story I reviewed for you (Wonder Woman: The True Amazon) overlap in this story, but the perspective is different and makes this story unique. What I notice here is that while man’s world was full of hate and war, Hippolyta, along with her sisters forged her nation of woman who spoke of love and compassion, but were equally as mighty with their sword and axes. However, unlike the men, the Amazon’s were never inherently cruel. Impressed with this balance, Zeus granted Hippolyta and her sister’s immortality so that they would be able to oversee the growth and prosperity of the Amazon’s. As years pass, Hippolyta is filled with sorrow because immortals cannot give birth. Her festering anguish led her astray. During the invasion of Hercules, she had a sexual tryst with Theseus, allowing Hercules’ army to gain the upper hand leading to the defeat and death of one of Hippolyta’s sister, Penthesilea. After seeing the results of her indiscretion, she chose to abandon her longing for children and while her Amazon sisterhood were upset that she betrayed them, they chose her to lead them back to peace and prosperity as their Queen. Meanwhile, in the heavens, the gods were at war with a Titan. While they defeated the Titan, the battle ravaged the Earth, so the gods created an island sequestered away from humanity to prevent further disaster. Zeus invites the Amazon’s to live on a piece of said island known as Themyscira, in exchange for making it a place of peace and provide worship to the gods. To seal the deal, Zeus promises to give souls of daughters to mortal Amazons, once every 10 years. Still left childless, it is the mystical sands and wishing of Hippolyta that bring Diana into this world. I find in this book compared to most others, the Amazon’s are far more harmonious with the ancient gods. Most books don’t showcase the Amazons as being so submissive and worshiping the Gods in such detail. So much so, that Hippolyta’s sisters align themselves with worshiping and being somewhat of an emissary of those gods. However, while men are shown for their propensity for hatred and warfare, this books puts the blame for the suffering and devastation in Man’s world on the gods. This book also clearly identifies the Amazon’s as human beings who are granted immortality and extra ability. I think that past iterations of Wonder Woman stories have made them quasi god-like in their own right, however when doing that, it makes the presence of the gods somewhat moot. I didn’t like Diana’s clay origin this time around. The clay being able to bring Diana to life because Hippolyta essentially thinks/wills her into being, basically makes her a Green Lantern minus the ring, or his duties. Diana being given life by the gods, makes her extra special in my book.

Speaking of Diana, she is much more the traditional one we are used to, as opposed to the bitchy spoiled brat from Wonder Woman: A True Amazon. Here, Diana has a strong unwavering desire to join the military of Paradise Island and commence her training. However, her mother would rather groom her to be future Queen so she can win favor from the gods, ultimately being granted immortality by the gods. While mother and daughter are at odds over this, they share the same reasoning; to protect the other. Hippolyta worries that Diana’s mortality will be tested if she joins the warrior ranks, while Diana wants to use her training and warrior status to protect her mother and home world from a dark mystical threat, only she seems to sense. In this segment of the story, ultimately Diana pretends to abide her mother’s wishes, while secretly training with Alicippe. While Diana feels disheartened for disobeying her mother, it turns out she knew all along and despite her misgivings, allowed Alicippe to continue her training because it makes Diana happen. During her training, Diana learns that her mother was the fiercest warrior the Amazon’s have ever known. Thus, Diana realizes her mother’s concern for her because she’s fought in battle and knows the costs. Still, this only brings Diana closer to her mother, strengthening her resolve to fight alongside her fellow warriors. Honestly, of all the Wonder Woman stories I’ve read, this one makes me feel the most genuine and invested in the mother/daughter bond of Hippolyta and Diana. The arrival of Steve Trevor on Themyscira is more purposeful and serves an added purpose in this story. It seems as though whatever great dark threat Diana sensed was to plague Themyscira, actually pulled Steve Trevor’s plane towards the island. Think of it kind of like the Bermuda Triangle myth. I think I like this idea better, then it just being a happy accident. When Hippolyta’s sisters learn of the plane crash, they plan to use a “wild man” scampering unchecked around the island, to discredit Hippolyta’s leadership, and take her place as Queen. One of the sisters even contemplates murder. However, their plan is thwarted by Diana and Alicippe, with Alicippe ultimately losing her life in the process. I love that there is jealousy and resent among Hippolyta’s sisters. Look, I can suspend disbelieve that most women can live on an island and live in harmony together. But I’ve known too many woman who hold grudges and “hate” each other, for the most ridiculous of reasons. So it makes sense that if one sister was favored by Zeus over others, there would be some anger and jealousy at play. The gladiator games that bring Wonder Woman to man’s world are not a mere commemorative ceremony in this book. Here, the winner gets to decide the fate of the intruder Steve Trever. Diana of course wins the event and decides to escort Steve home. I like that the Amazon gladiatorial tournament had more stakes involved then just being something ritualistic. While we never see Wonder Woman in costume yet, she is given her heroic wardrobe by her mother and it’s confirmed that in this iteration, the gods have embed the elements of her heroic costume with blessings, that when worn, give Diana her extraordinary abilities. In previous iterations, her divine birth has been the cause of her abilities. Truly, I’m fine with both interpretations. The relationship/infatuation is just started/teased here between Diana and Steve. It seems as though they are going to expand that over the course of several issues. I prefer this, rather than having it force fed to us in one shot.

The art drawn by Ray Dillon. The art is much more modern looking than the last Wonder Woman graphic novel I reviewed here. It also has a little bit of an animated feel to it, without ever veering into overly cartoonish. Diana, as she ages from childhood to adulthood, looks like our very own Miss Kinky Horror. That’s perfectly fine by me by the way. My favourite page is the splash page of the gods battling Titan at the top portion of the page, while the Earth is being ravaged by volcanic eruption and flooding as a result of their war. It’s powerful and mythic imagery that highlights the powers of the Gods. I noted that the gladiatorial games as drawn in Wonder Woman: A True Amazon looked like Ben Hur. The gladiatorial tournament in The Legend of Wonder Woman visually reminds me of 300! A huge part of the beauty of this art is the colors. The shot of Pegasus prancing elegantly with sunlight shining in behind is literally the most beautiful shot I’ve seen in a comic book over the last year. Also, the cloud of darkness engulfing Themyscira is perfectly creepy and menacing. If you had any doubt that Themyscira is the most beautiful location in the DC Universe, this book will confirm it.

This is a fantastic read. You may feel as though you know Wonder Woman’s origin, but the twists to familiar scenarios, a deeper connection between mother and daughter, and spectacular looking art makes this a must read for Wonder Woman fans everywhere. Now I don’t know specific details of the Wonder Woman film, but there are scenes from the trailers that seem to be pulled right out of this book. For that reason, I recommend reading this book, as a pre-movie ritual leading up to your viewing of the film. For myself, the week leading up to the release, I plan on doing a Wonder Woman marathon consisting of, the television series, episodes of the Justice League animated series and a stack of comic books. PS: The wait is almost over my friends!

Kinky Komic Review: Riverdale #1

(Submitted by Mr. SuperheroScifi himself, Sir Prince Adam of Locksley…Thanks, Super Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

“From Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the writers of the new CW series Riverdale comes the first issue of the MUST-READ, brand new, ongoing comic series. Set in the universe of the TV series, the Riverdale comic offers a bold, subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, Josie & the Pussycats and their friends, exploring small-town life and the darkness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.” (Archie Comics)

Before you read this book, let it be known that spoilers can be found within this review.  I like the wording in the synopsis. “Set in the universe” of the CW TV series of the same name.  That’s so appropriate for the stories told in this issue. We get two stories one that focuses on Archie and one focusing on Betty.  Each story showcases our protagonist during their first week/weeks in their new roles at Riverdale High. For Archie that means being a quarterback on the football team, while for Betty that means joining the cheerleading squad.  As you read the stories, you can’t really tell 100% where it fits in with the television series.  Some scenes are pulled right from certain episodes, like Archie being given the deceased Jason Blossom’s old jersey number. You also see the moment where Betty is urged by Veronica to join the cheerleading squad.  Brand new scenes come from what is called “Hell Week”, which is the pranking/hazing of our newbies on the football team and the cheerleading squad.  I liked that writer’s Will Ewing and Michael Grassi balanced showcasing the harmless side of pranking, such as the football team streaking, or Betty having to walk the halls in a scantily clad cheerleading outfit.  More serious forms of hazing include making Archie swim across the frozen waters of Sweetwater River or Cheryl Blossom making Betty stand at the edge of the roof of the high school, to expose Betty’s fears.  Hazing has made news in recent years, and is a real issue teen’s face when taken too far and I think not only is important to comment on it in a book about teens, but especially more so in this book, because Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jugghead are America’s most popular fictional teens.  I love that the book highlights that Archie feels uncomfortable being a quarterback and he’s not all together good at it either.  The book also highlights Archie’s kindness as he does an extra lap of shame swimming in Sweetwater Lake, to spare another team-member who can’t swim from added torment or ridicule.  In the second story, we see how close the relatively recent BFF’s Betty and Veronica are. Specifically, how Veronica defends Betty from Chery Blossom’s verbal attacks. She also literally stands beside her and holds her hand as Betty confronts her fear of heights, standing on the ledge of the high school roof.  The book doesn’t show the love triangle we are typically used to from Archie, Betty and Veronica. However, neither has the show to this point, though we have been promised it down the line.  While we are introduced to this new emo version of Jugghead and the bitch that is Cheryl Blossom, I like that the books focus is squarely on our classic trinity of characters.

The art duties fall to Joe Eisma.  The art is far more detailed and sleek in appearance than your typical Archie comic book. It is definitely more adult in appearance, in addition to the dialogue.  However, the artist does a good job of retaining the simplistic look of classic Archie stories as well  I have to say that the characters are pretty much all spot on to their television counterparts. Archie, Jugghead and Cheryl look particularly like perfect matches to the actors that play them. Betty and Veronica both look good, but at times in the book, leave a lot to be desired as they come off looking a little wonky.  My favourite pages are split, one from each story. The one from the Archie story titled Bloodsport, is the splash page where Archie looks at himself in the mirror, all decked out in his football uniform, only to see the reflection of the decomposed Jason Blossom looking back at him.  It was quite creepy and reminded me of some of the crossover horror stories that have featured the Archie cast of characters.  My second favorite page comes from the “Bring It On” story featuring Betty.  It features the typically reserved Betty walk in a sexier version of the cheerleading outfit to complete her “Hell Week” challenge. As she walks proudly and confidently through the halls, her school mates, boys and girls alike, look on amazed at the transformation.  It felt like a classic scene out of every teen movie. Very John Hughes like, as a matter of fact.

I thought this book captures the “Ringer meets Archie” vibe that The CW series Riverdale is going for.  I find it to be very respectful of classic Archie, while taking the story and its characters in an edgier direction. If you haven’t watched the series, this serves as an excellent prequel to the pilot episode.   If you have a familiarity with the show, this can be seen as stories that take place in between the first couple episodes.  I enjoy the book and definitely think it’s worth reading.

#TerrorTuesday Comic Review: The Walking Dead Volume 3

(Submitted by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Mr. A! 🙂 xoxo)

“This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there…each other.”


This story picks right up where Volume 2 ended. Our weary group of humans have found an abandoned penitentiary. Well, save for a group of zombies sloshing around the front gate. After dispensing of the zombies, and a little cleanup, Rick and crew believe they have found their new home, the most spacious, and safest yet.  If this sounds at all familiar, it’s reminiscent of last volume when they found the estates.  Much like that story, they found other survivors who gave them food, before also encountering other zombies.  In that story, those people were Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend, who are now members of Rick’s zombie hatin’ posse.  In this story, the human survivors found are four inmates, locked safely in the cafeteria.  Sure, they’re convicts, one of which was falsely accused, the other a murderer, another was a drug addict. The final member, was a tax evader.  Still, they seemed very peaceful, reformed and best of all for Rick and company, they have a kitchen full of food, canned and otherwise; enough for a prison full of people. With that in mind, Rick heads to Hershel farm, to get Hershel and the remainder of his children to move into the penitentiary.  Despite the chaos that ensued previously between Hershel’s group and Rick’s survivors, coupled with the fact that Hershel almost shot Rick, I think this gesture is a sign of Rick’s hopefulness and positivity in the face of this hell on Earth.  For the first few issues of this volume, I fell for the false sense of security Rick and Tyreese were feeling.  This is the second volume in a row, where Robert Kirkman played me for a fool. In this case, it’s a mark of great storytelling, so I am not ashamed.

Things start turning sour when Lori begins to worry and express fear about having a murderer and drug addict in their midst.  Rick agrees they should be mindful of potential threats and be cautious, yet remains staunch and optimistic that this new status quo is best for everyone. Tensions are raised higher when Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend botch a simultaneous suicide after a night of passionate sex. They planned to shoot each other simultaneously, but Chris accidentally fired too quickly.  When Tyreese discovers what occurs he kills Chris in a fit of anger. I can see both sides of this scenario, On the one hand, the two young lovers know their chances of surviving this zombie apocalypse are slim, so why not go out of this world on their terms, together, and as the Joker says; “If you gotta go, go with a smile.”  It’s very Romeo and Juliet…but with zombies. I understand Tyreese’s actions too, because planned or not, Chris still killed his baby girl. I’d choke the bastard too! I can rationalize both acts from both parties, given the world they inhabit.  These scenes throw an added wrinkle into the story.  What was once human on zombie violence, now has taken on an element of human on human violence.  If that isn’t a twist enough for you, how about the fact that Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend turn into zombies after death….without having being bitten!? Holy Plot Twist Batman! I seriously didn’t see that coming.  It’s not explained, as to how it’s possible either. So I wonder, is the zombie gene within every human? Will this ever be answered? It better damn well be because I’m so curious. This plot point leads to a cameo from a character we haven’t seen since the first issue.  If that wasn’t enough proof of the unpredictability of this book, Hershel’s two daughters are murdered and beheaded.  Yes, in the midst of all this, Robert Kirkman had to throw a murder mystery into this story and at no point does this book feel overstuffed or bogged down by it.  Naturally, Team Grimes, specifically Lori, lays blame on either the murder suspect or the former drug addict.  Unsure, the group decides to lock them both in separate cells.  When Andrea is attacked by the criminal who was convicted for tax evasion and her earlobe cut off, Rick loses it, and nearly beats the man to death. Despite protests from his fellow survivors, Rick unilaterally decides that murder will not be tolerated and death will be met with death. So Rick has him thrown outside the gates of the penitentiary, where he is attacked and killed by zombies. The previous suspects are released, but stage a mutiny holding Rick and company at gunpoint, ordering them to leave the penitentiary. Rick finally snapped and the tipping point was Hershel’s daughters being killed. He blames himself for their deaths. However, you can see the events of each volume chipping away at Rick’s calm and sanity.  It continues to affect his relationship with Lori. She’s even getting more snappy with him, though part of that is self admittedly her pregnancy hormones.  One thing I love about this book is that every event counts and affects the next story. Nothing is written as filler. Even if I leave this books for weeks or even months, the preceding storyline stays in the back of my mind, racing to the forefront when I pick up another volume.

Charlie Adlard returns for his second stint on the title.  He definitely seems more comfortable in this world and with these characters. There seems to be more detail in his work.  Last volume, I said the lack of color detracted from the setting of winter.  This time though, it works for the setting.  Inside and outside, the penitentiary looks spacious. There’s a dichotomy with the art on the interior of the Penitentiary.  The kitchen looks plentifully, while the rest of the place looks baron and desolate.  The best two zombie images are the pov shot of Rick and Tyreese peering into the gym seeing a horde of zombies on the other side of the door.  The other standout is when Tyreese is attacked by the zombie horde and they all swarm on top of him.  .  The most gruesome images are the human vs human violence. Tyreese’s dead daughters lying beheaded was disturbing, but the details of Rick dolling out a beating on the murderer is intense.  You can see the welts and bruises on his knuckles, without the aid of coloring.  The best cover of this volume is the one with Rick riding his motorcycle. When in doubt, remember that riding a motorcycle always looks badass!

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the TV show.  Too many friends of mine have said it deviates too much from the book and that the storyline has disappointed as the seasons have gone on. One thing is for sure, I’m sticking with the comic book because it keeps getting better and better. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to read more, It’s no wonder this book tops the charts every time a new issue is released each month.

Comic Book Review: Y: The Last Man Volume 1: Unmanned

(Submitted by with love by Mr. Prince Adam…Ho-pe you’re having a very Happy New Comic Book Day, Kinky Ho-mies! xoxo)

“Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and with art by Pia Guerra, this is the saga of Yorick Brown–the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth. Collects issues #1-5.” (Vertigo)

This comic book gets a lot of critical praise and is lauded in the fanboy community as well! The way some of my friends talk about it, you’d think it’s the greatest thing you’ll ever read. Having just read the first volume, I just don’t get the high praise. For me it was okay, but I definitely had problems with it. One of the things I did like, was the idea that a virus/plague was killing every male on Earth. Now I didn’t like it because my male brethren were dying off. However, this was an intriguing plot point that is unique to any comic book I’ve ever read. The male death epidemic, allows the story to give us incredibly strong, prominent and badass female characters. Sure, Yorick Brown is the last man and he’s at the center of this story, along with his pet monkey Ampersand but this story would be pretty boring if it was about a dude and his monkey. By the way, this book gets extra points because a lead character has a pet monkey. The monkey is a pest, and a pain in the ass to Yuri, which drives most of the humor in this post-apocalyptic story. Also it reminds me of Friends and Joey. The president is obviously now a woman, and Yorick’s mother is a state representative in Washington. In an effort to set the scene for these two characters and this book before the male population goes extinct, this book gets quite political. We see Yorick’s mom arguing with a male counterpart over the issue of an abortion amendment. We see the soon to be President in Israel in the midst of Israeli/Palestinian warfare. Both abortion and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are still big issues even a decade plus after this book was published. I’m pleased that these issues are present, as comic books rarely touch on them. I only hope that it wasn’t all for exposition, or that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, when the story shifts its focus to Yorick’s journey. Speaking of Yorick’s journey, to find out the nature of the virus, why he wasn’t affected by it, he’s joined by two other awesome female characters. The first is Agent 355. The character is tasked by the President to guard and escort Yorick from Washington to Boston. The interesting thing about Agent 355 is that she is no simple body guard, she is a member of the clandestine group Culper Ring. She says they are a part of American history but you can sense there’s more going on with this group and I can’t wait to delve into that history and their ultimate machinations in future volumes. The third member of Yorick’s Scooby gang is Doctor Allison Mann. Dr. Mann is a geneticist, with a special aptitude for cloning. She successfully attempted the cloning process before, and cloning Yorick seems like a way of re-establishing the male population to ensure the births of future generations of humanity. If you suspend disbelief, that sounds like a viable option and she sounds like someone who can get it done.

The main antagonist of this first five issues is the Daughters of the Amazon. They view extinction of all men as a blessing and as a chance to rise up and return Earth to its glory days, when it was led by only woman. These women take Amazon mythology to its extreme. To the point where they cut off one breast because it makes it easier to shoot a bow. If one of their ranks or another woman doesn’t fall in line with the exact ways of the group they are killed. Brian K. Vaughan writes the Daughters of the Amazon with the most extreme stereotypes people have of feminists. This group of women are man hating vandals, societal disrupters and killers. I don’t think the writer is doing this to disparage normal, sane and legitimate feminist, he’s just creating a hyper stereotypical version, who do horrible things so that the readers have an antagonist to root against and despise. If he depicted feminists as they really are, this book would have zero action beats at all. It’d just be marching and protesting. While that may be real world appropriate, it translates to one boring comic. With Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann getting into confrontations and being on the run from the Daughters of the Amazon, this book has a bit of a Mad Max vibe going for it. The book ends with our trifecta in a bind. Not only are they on the run from Amazon wannabe’s, but they reach Dr. Mann’s Boston lab, only to find the building and her research up in flames. However, the perpetrator of this arson, is a lieutenant general of the Israeli Defense Force. She was seen briefly and early in the story and is after Yorick, to ensure the future of her nation. That’s what I liked about this book. What I didn’t like was Yorick. This guy is in his mid-20’s, jobless and is obsessed with maintaining a long distance relationship with a girl who, it is clear that she’s on the verge of breaking up with him, so the guy proposes to her over the phone. What a douchebag. When the plague hits and all the men die, and it becomes clear that he is the only person capable of insuring humanity’s ultimate survival, his only concern is going to Australia to find his girlfriend. Really? I mean the savior of humanity throughout the book, acts like a petulant child when he doesn’t get his way. Yeah, if the future of the human race was really left up to someone like him, I’d rather we all die off. The other thing the book does poorly is deal with the relationship between Yorick and his sister Hero. He tells us how close they are, yet we never see them interact. A flashback to Yorick and Hero’s youth would’ve helped build the bond. Instead, we see Hero at the very beginning and end of the book. At the beginning, we see her banging her figherfighter boyfriend in the back of a fire truck, while at the end we see her with one boob and she is one of the members of Daughters of the Amazon tasked with finding Yorick. Seems to me Brian K Vaughan jumped the gun with her character arc, if you can call it one. Then there’s the issue of the plague killing all the men. The biggest plot point of this book and we don’t get so much of a hint at what it is, or what might have caused it. I understand there’s lots of story left to be told but come on, tease us with something.

Pia Guerra is the artist on this book and it’s the first time I’m seeing her work. To me it has a similar style to the artist of iZombie. While the work is good, given the nature of this story, there aren’t many action scenes to gush on about. I do like the picture of the wives of the dead republican male senators, approaching the White House with weapons, demanding their husband’s places on the senate. The image looked like something akin to zombie’s attacking in a movie or TV show. The page where Yorick gets into a fight with a few Daughters of the Amazon’s resembled the aftermath of an nWo wrestling match. A couple Amazon’s held Yorick down, while the ring leader roughed him up a bit. There was even spray paint involved! The final splash page is an aerial shot showing our characters lost in a literal fork in the road, with the road making the shape of a Y. Now that’s a cool way to end the first arc of a book. Ultimately though, I wish cover artist J.G. Jones was doing the interiors. His art is far more realistic looking and suits the real world story and scenario’s this book deals with.

I’m mostly split on this book. There’s a lot to like about this book but there’s a lot I don’t like about this book. Right now, I’m skewing more negative, due to an unlikable idiot of a main character, under developed backstory and character relationships, and bad pacing in certain places. I’ll probably give this book another go, in the hopes that another volume will build on the parts I did like, and reveal answers to the questions I have about the virus/plague. After Volume 1, I’m left wondering “Y” The hell do so many of my friends and critics think this book is great!?

Kinky Komic Book Review: Spawn #6-7

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Ho-mie O’Brien! 😉 xoxo)

“The Mob is fed up with losing their men to an unknown assailant. Finally deciding that Spawn is the killer, they send hit men to kill him. When Spawn defeats these attackers, the mob calls in Overtkill, a cyborg assassin. This foe is unlike any Spawn has ever faced, so he flees their battle to prepare. Luckily, he knows a secret armory stacked with the latest firepower.” (Image)

Following last issue’s emotionally charged socially relevant drama, where Spawn brought a child rapist to justice by killing him, Todd McFarlane, gets back to the super heroic horror the book featured in its first four issues.  Speaking of the first four issues, Spawn’s heart evisceration killing spree of the mafia has its consequences. The mafia has pooled its resources to higher the aforementioned Overtkill. The book does a great job in telling and showing us how much of a threat he is, however does a piss poor job at giving us any background on who Overtkill is, or how he came to be.  McFarlane tells us that he is a nemesis of the Youngblood’s and expects that to be sufficient.  Here’s the problem, I’ve never heard of Youngblood’s and have no inclination to read that title. I’m sorry but, it’s Rob Liefeld and the only character of his I can stomach is Deadpool. I find the rest of his work derivative, and the comic book equivalent of horse shit. Also, his art sucks. Anyway, if Todd McFarlane felt it necessary to borrow from that area of the Image universe, then it falls on him to give us details on Overtkill, for potential non Youngblood readers like me.  This is especially true for the early 90’s, when this book was written and the internet/Wikipedia wasn’t at our finger tips.  I did love that McFarlane showed Spawn being mindful of not using his power unless absolutely necessary, so as not to expend them, which would expedite his souls return to hell. It would be so easy for a writer to not acknowledge this fact from time to time, in favor of an awesome use of mystical powers.  Hoverer, the fact that this implication constantly affects and impacts Spawn, gives every scenario where he uses his abilities more weight and importance. This forced the character to rely on firearms he knew about from his days in the army.  What that does is bring both his past life and present life into conflict.  McFarlane uses this to give us more info about Spawn’s death. In the first volume, flashbacks inform us that a hit was ordered on him by a high ranking government official.  Here, through flashbacks, we learn that the mystery goes deeper and the person who carried out the kill, was someone he knew. In this flashback/nightmare sequence the face of his killer is seen as a skeleton. So we get a hint of new information, yet we don’t see who it is.  I like that we are getting teased, with the reveal being a slow burn. It puts us in Al Simmons shoes, almost like you’re watching a P.O.V, Telltale video game story play out.

As with the first five issues of this title, Todd McFarlane handles both writing and art duties.  While I thought character wise, Overtkill was disappointing, look wise he was great. He looked like a cross between Deadshot with is laser eye patch and Cyborg with all that armor.  The two fights between Spawn and Overtkill were incredibly short, but certain imagery from each really stood out. When Overtkill grabbed Spawn’s cape and chains, using them against him it showed how much of a hindrance, the superhero aesthetic can sometimes be. Most costumed character books don’t touch this issue, so it made this page stand out.  The page in issue 7 where Overtkill is turned inside out, thanks to a bazooka blast, is pure off the wall insanity that really pops off the page.  The image looks so great, it even counteracts the annoying amount of white background present on the page.  Spawns nightmare sequence was the most haunting of the book, as it featured an American flag riddled with bullet holes, with his killer being a skeleton. There’s blood red colors through the page.  The close up on Spawn’s face really accentuates the pain and anguish, each new memory causes Spawn.    While I love that Todd McFarlane highlights how kind and accepting the homeless community is to Spawn in his writing, he doesn’t glorify homelessness in the art.  The streets are dark, and full of garbage. You can see the toll homelessness causes on those who suffer through it, in the face of the homeless man Spawn interacts with.

These two issues aren’t as good as the first five. This is mainly due to an underdeveloped adversary, who feels like a throw away character we’re only going to see these two times.  However, I enjoyed every aspect that dealt with Spawn, his story movement and character development made this book a decent read and is the reason I want to continue reading the early adventures of this modern independent classic character.

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Comic Book Review: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

(Big hugs to Prince Adam for wettin’ our whistle with this whilst we wait on Logan‘s return to the big screen. 🙂 xoxo)

“Collects Wolverine (2003) #66-72 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size. In the future, Logan lives a quiet life. But one day an old friend shows up to ask a favor of him. And on a journey across America, the mutant Wolverine will become a hero again…” (Marvel)

 

This summer, will mark Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, or so he says.  The film is titled Logan and features an aged up Hugh Jackman. Both Hugh and director James Mangold have sited the comic book Wolverine: Old Man Logan as inspiration. So I thought why not take advantage of the opportunity and review the graphic novel. The book is set 50 years into the future, featuring an America devoid of superheroes. The man once known as Wolverine now lives a peaceful, docile Christian life on a farm with his wife and two children.. In a conversation with his wife, Logan reveals that he hasn’t popped his claws, let alone raised his voice, in 50 years.  Before knowing the how or why, one of my favourite comic book writers, Mark Millar instantly has me intrigued, because this is the opposite demeanor and behavior I am used to from the character. Finding out why he had taken this stance, made this story even more intense. The Marvel Universe is bereft of heroes in this story because the Red Skull managed to gather all the villains together, to kill all the heroes. To neutralize the X-Men, Mysterio alters Logan’s X-Men teammates to look like a group of villains . When the X-Men return home, he sees the mansion as under attack, goes into a berserk rage and kills all the X-Men. When he realizes what he has done, he is distraught, and shock sets in. From that moment on he vows to never pop his claws or go berserker rage again. This scene was incredibly heartbreaking. If you’ve read any X-Men or watched any of the films, you know that despite his penchant for being a loner, Wolverine considers  the X-Men his family and their deaths at his hand, even accidentally would break him to a point of retracting his claws for good.  With Wolverine, and the X-Men out of the way, Red Skull, and his  lieutenants which include, Magneto, Doctor Doom, the Incredible Hulk, and others are able to kill  and capture most of the heroes. They follow this up with a take over the United States government. Red Skull installs himself as the president and separates the U.S into 4 territories, giving his lieutenants control.  The Hulk was controlling California, Doom’s domain is the bible belt and Magneto reigns over Las Vegas. The way America was split in this book, with certain factions presiding over different areas reminded, me of shows like Into the Badlands and Dominion.

Logan is urged back into the fray by Clint Barton, also old now, as well as blind.  He needs to make a cross country delivery to New Babylon, and requires Logan’s sight to drive. Logan is hesitant, but is convinced by the former Hawkeye’s promise of a big payday, so Logan can pay his land rent fee to The Hulk Gang.  These are the inbred children and grandchildren of The Hulk and his cousin She Hulk.  If Logan can’t pay, the Hulk Gang has threatened to harm his wife and children. So Logan agrees to be the driver, as long as he doesn’t have to get physical. Mark Millar throws in some clever nods to Hawkeye’s past. At one point, Logan questions Hawkeye’s allegiances, by calling out his time as a villain and his drug use. Something that I think is new to this mythology for this possible future, is Hawkeye’s familial connection to Spider – Man. Hawkeye was married to Peter Parker’s daughter. While that union ended badly, it produced Spider-Man’s grand-daughter. She’s going around calling herself Spider-Woman. She is held captive by Kingpin, She is freed by Logan and Clint. Shortly there after, she kills Kingpin and assumes control of Las Vegas and sends men chasing after her father and Logan. In addition to the Kingpin, Wolverine and Logan are confronted by Moloids, they take on two Ghost Riders and a cloned dinosaur infected by the Venom symbiote. All this before they reach New Babylon. The delivery Hawkeye and Logan had to make was viles of super soldier serum to SHIELD agents who are part of an underground resistance group trying to build a new Avengers team.  However, that SHIELD team are undercover Hydra agents working for Red Skull. The agents kill Hawkeye and Wolverine knocks them out and takes the case full of money.  This road trip segment of the book feels a little bit like a Jason Statham Transporter  film in it’s plot.  My problems with this book is that, Wolverine and Hawkeye  go through a gauntlet of villains far too quickly, It felt like a video game, just going through minor bosses to get to the big bad.  For this comic book story, that results in characters who are supposed to be important, getting a passing reference or cameo. Doctor Doom gets a two panel cameo with no dialogue and Magneto is killed off panel, by a no name thug calling himself King Pin.   Peter Parker’s grand-daughter is hyped up to the nth degree, and gets less then a full issue in the story,  One thing that I don’t understand, is that pretty much every character in this book is a villain. Spider-Woman even becomes the Kingpin. There is zero explanation as to why The Incredible Hulk is an evil overlord.  How and when did this happen? As much as I like Mark Millar as a writer, it is lazy not to include these details. The third act of the story is a tale of heroism, yet also vengeance.  Logan confronts the Red Skull , ultimately defeating and killing him. He then returns home to California to find his wife and children dead at the hands of the Hulk Gang. Here the book comes full circle. Earlier in the book, the death of his X-Men family signaled the death of Wolverine. Now the death of his human family, signals the rebirth of Wolverine. What follows is the methodical dismantling and destruction of The Hulk Gang, including Bruce Banner himself. This sequence is essentially the movie John Wick but with claws. Every member of the Hulk gang is killed, except The Hulk’s youngest child, who Wolverine vows to train and make a member of his new team, as they ride off into the sunset.

 

Steve McNiven, a frequent collaborator of Mark Millar, is the artist on this book and his work is Xtraordinary (couldn’t resist)  One of the aspects of his work I adore, is that all of the characters faces and expressions look distinct and unique. The aged versions of Logan, Clint Barton and Bruce Banner all look uniquely different.  Speaking of which, does anyone else think Wolverine looks like a short, stubbier version of Clint Eastwood? The scene of Logan looking out over the farm at the sunset  is such a beautiful peaceful image that evokes his more peaceful and Zen like attempt at life early in the book.  The shot of Logan and Hawkeye in the Spider-Mobile, being chased in the desert by a venom infected dinosaur was incredible. So much detail is on display and it looks like a mashup of movie scenes from Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road.  There is a lot of violence and blood in this book.  More so then in most of the horror genre books I’ve read and reviewed for this site. The scenes when Logan accidentally  kills the X-Men or battles Red Skull are prime examples. The way Wolverine decapitates Red Skull with Captain America’s shield is pretty inventive and expertly drawn. Old Hulk looks creepy and is even scarier then his regular MCU counterpart. The scenes where he rips Wolverine apart, eats him and then Wolverine bursts through him cutting him from the inside, are the most gruesome, highlight reel scenes of the book. My ultimate favorite single page from this book, features Wolverine angrily popping his claws, knuckles full of blood, after finding his slain family.  It signifies that berserker Wolverine is back and on the war path.

 

In terms of relatively new stories, this story is simply a modern day classic.  There are a lot of good Wolverine stories out there but this one ranks as one of the best.  Wolverine: Old Man Logan, is Wolverine’s The Dark Knight Returns.  While Frank Miller did it better, Mark Millar gave us a story that is a close second. There is a current Old Man Logan monthly book that I’m curious to know if it connects to this. I’ll have to check it out and review it for you guys and gals. This is quintessential Wolverine story telling that is a must read for any fan of the character. Get It!

Comic Book Review: Vampirella #7

(Submitted by our resident SuperheroScifi Stud, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

Her name is Sofia, a young woman pulled into the maelstrom of violence and supernatural terror that surrounds Vampirella. She’s stood at Vampirella’s side during the terrifying battle Against the Lord of Worms, fought the blood-hungry legions of Dracula, and survived the clutches of the vile Le Fanu. But who is Sofia, and what secrets lurk in her past? Written by Eric Trautmann (Action Comics, The Shield) and illustrated by Walter Geovani (Red Sonja), this issue marks the transition to a new — and bloodier — chapter for Vampirella!” (Dynamite)

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Usually, I review completed story arcs of comic books.  However, on rare occasions, I’ll make an exception. As it says in the description, this story is a transition between the previous story arc and the new upcoming one.  Normally, these types of stories offer nothing of value to the story, or the mythology and are a filler one off story.  This story is not. It picks up right after the events of last issue, and we see Sofia helping a wounded and spent Vampirella back to her apartment.  Sofia hooks Vampirella up to  the makeshift intravenous she has in her apartment, connecting it to the bags of blood she finds stacked in the fridge.  I really like the inclusion of these moments, as writer Eric Trautmann points out how well prepared Vampirella is for every possible scenario. She has contingency plans and is not arrogant about herself or her prowess, despite her nature and enhanced abilities.  While Vampirella recovers, the story alternate between flashbacks and present day, to flesh out the backstory and character of Sofia. After all she’s been through in the first story, almost being bitten by Le Fanu, and helping battle the Lord of Worms, I questioned why a normal human being would stick around for more of this craziness? She had a terrible child hood, where she and her mother endured abuse from her step father, as well as being picked on and ridiculed in high school.  So I think it’s natural that she’d stick with a woman who saved her and who she saved in return. The other reason she stays, in this new world of vampires and monsters, is because she’s a vampire fan girl.  She’s a big fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  I love that her recent experiences, seemed to toughen Sofia up, and encourage her to confront and kick her verbally abusive and demeaning boyfriend to the curb.  Between last volume and this story, you get the sense Sofia is Vampirella’s take on Mina, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula story. Sofia even mentions that character is her favourite in that story.  Even though Sofia, is a  fan girl of vampire and monster mythology, I’m glad writer Eric Trautmann showed her being flustered and overwhelmed by what she had experienced. This is a natural reaction, and one that would happen if this were a real life situation, no matter how much of a fan of the fictional mythology one may be. While Vampirella rests, Sofia searches the internet for more information on who and what exactly Vampirella is. She stumbles on fan sites, and conspiracy theory articles about Vampirella’s origins.  All of them are either off base, or wrong, which is great for the story conceit of keeping her origins a mystery to the outside world. Nobody tends to believe the credibility of fan or conspiracy theory websites. Even in a character driven issue, the mythology is moved forward when Vampirella wakes up from her dream screaming the name Adam! If Vampirella were real, I’d love to her to be screaming my name in bed. 😉 However, in this case, she was referring to Adam Van Helsing. I can’t wait to see how the presumed relative of the famed vampire hunter factors into this book going forward.

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Artist Walter Geovani takes over on art for this issue.  The art style is in the same vein (pun intended) as the previous story arc.  However, I feel this artist provides greater detail and close up imagery where facial features are concerned.  The art really does a great job of showcasing the dichotomy of Vampirella being as beautiful as a supermodel. But also being a monster with vampire fangs, and a bloody mess. Those scenes of Vampirella wounded and bloody lying in bed, were expertly drawn and colored, perfectly highlighting the beauty and brutality of this title and its main character. I loved the look of Sofia. She was vey unique, and stood out in her own right. To me it seems like their was a mix of punk rock/goth look to her. She’s got a more punk look to her in my opinion. The green hair was a really good choice. It looked good and gave me a momentary flashback to the female Joker in Batman: Thrillkiller.  The pages with Sofia searching the internet for info on Vampirella felt very meta, because I was on the internet on comixology reading about Vampirella! This book is light on action, so it made the image of Sofia kneeing her now ex boyfriend in the groin, all the more painful and exhilarating. Painful because as a man, every time you see a visual of a man getting kneed in the groin, you feel residual pain. Exhilarating because he absolutely deserved it. All the deferent covers for this book are fantastic, and could be Cosplay material for out very on Diana Prince. The one above is my favourite! Vampirella is without a doubt Bootyful! 😉

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One of the reasons I love this issue, is because it puts the focus entirely on Sofia. From the first story arc, I could sense that she was Robin to Vampirella’s Batman, Gabrielle to Vampirella’s Xena. So it’s great that we get a chance to sink our teeth into  her back story and what makes her tick. I look forward to seeing more of her, as well as where the rest of the book takes us in general. While you don’t have to read this to keep up with the overall story, you most definitely should!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Smallville Season 11 #13-15

(Heroically submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Superfriend-ly Fiend!! 😉 xoxo)

“While Clark and Lois struggle to deal with their new status quo, trouble brews on the streets of a crime-ridden city called Gotham. Enter: the Dark Knight! Episode two begins here! With Metropolis in the grip of a heat wave, Clark must track down and apprehend a teleporting criminal. Meanwhile, are Lex’s memories starting to return? Bruce Wayne visits Metropolis and does lunch with Lex Luthor. But Superman calls Lex away for a more pressing matter: what was a just-arrested criminal doing with LexCorp technology?” (DC Comics)

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I’ve been waiting for Bruce Wayne/Batman to appear in the Smallville universe since Season 2.  Much like the initial chapters of the first storyline, this is an incredibly slow start to this episode.  It is my belief that every time Smallville has introduced another DC hero to their mythos on t.v., that guest hero is written better and more effectively than Clark.  This scenario is playing itself out again, at least for me, as I much preferred Batman’s role over these three chapters instead of Clark/ Superman.  The inclusion of Joe Chill smuggling high-end weaponry from Metropolis to Gotham on behalf of Intergang was a great way of bringing Batman into Superman’s world.  Also, I’m excited at the prospect of seeing Batman hunt down Joe Chill and how that will play itself out.  The Superman elements of these chapters gave me a sense of déjà vu.  Essentially he has a secret date with Lois in the fortress, where the two engage in coitus, as Sheldon Cooper calls it.  Superman also saves a school bus load of kids from certain disaster.  While the circumstances changed, it felt like Miller got lazy and lifted scenes from Superman and Superman II.

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Once you get past the fact that the art is being handled by someone with the same name as a terrible rap duo from the 90’s i.e. Chris Cross, you’ll realize the art emulates the writing.  The Batman stuff looks better than the Superman work.  Keep in mind I’m not a biased Batman fan.  My fandom extends to both equally.   I think Chris Cross has a better handle on Batman to be honest.  I really like his skyline view of Gotham City.  It’s atmospheric and puts you in a Batman mood! We get limited looks at the Dark Knight, but when we do they’re menacing and he has a permanent scowl on his face!  The Metropolis side of the ledger looks more cartoonish and awkward.  It has a Humberto Ramos quality too it, although not nearly as bad.  There’s one image where Superman looks like a blimp in the Thanksgiving parade rather than the hero who actually exists in the world they’ve created.

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Past experience with this book suggests improvement as the episode continues, so I’m not concerned.  To be fair, years of waiting for this moment to happen probably increased my anticipation to the point where I expected instant satisfaction.  Still, looking forward to seeing more of Smallville’s take on the World’s Finest.

Comic Book Review: Dark Shadows Vol 1

(Submitted by our Superheroic/SciFi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Superfriend! 🙂 xoxo)

Television’s original reluctant vampire is back! Barnabas Collins is re-adjusting to life under his vampiric curse. Haunted by terrifying dreams of his age-old lover and nemesis, Angelique, and fighting his bloodlust, Barnabas fears that danger lies ahead for all who live at Collinwood. Meanwhile, Barnabas’ ally and trusted friend Dr. Julia Hoffman is harboring secrets of her own… (Dynamite)

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I have never watched an episode of Dark Shadows and I haven’t seen the movie starring Johnny Depp, A friend of mine suggested the Dark Shadows property to me, knowing that I enjoy good vampire tales. I did some digging and discovered that the show was a popular supernatural/horror soap opera that ran on ABC from 1966-1971. There were also a couple revivals attempted and ultimately, the aforementioned film. I hope to eventually make my way through all of that. First though, I checked to see if there was a comic book, and with the help of the ever reliable Comixology, I found there was one. While the story does give you enough of the basics to understand the just of the story being told, it did get a little confusing getting the familial ties and relations of all of them straight. Not nearly as confusing as Game of Thrones mind you, but here’s where I felt having a preexisting knowledge of the show would’ve helped me. Going in, I figured that the entire Collins family would be vampires. So it came as an unexpected surprise to discover that only Barnabas Collins was a vampire. The fact that he was once a vampire who had been cured, only to be cursed back to being a vampire by a jilted ex lover, who was a witch, was also an interesting twist. This is where the somewhat soap opera aspect takes root in the story. Casting a spell on someone because they don’t return your affections is as soap opera as a supernatural story can get. However, the soap opera aspect isn’t too overly forced down readers throats and is rather bearable. While most new vampire media gives us the reluctant vampire story, Barnabas Collins is truly the originator of this idea. Where as modern day reluctant vampires usually live amongst humans and even find love, when this book starts, Barnabas has been in full on seclusion mode. He’s living in an older part of his family estate, for fear of feeding on them. You see his frustration as his personal doctor Julia Hoffman tries to once again purify his blood and cure him to no avail. His angry outbursts, even towards such a long-time friend highlight exactly why he is steering clear of his family.

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However, his seclusion doesn’t last long and when his family is threatened, Barnabas embraces his inner vampire, to rescue his family. In a bit of a mysterious twist, it is revealed that the Collins are being haunted by the spirit of the dead witch obsessed with Barnabas, Angelique. She has possessed everyone in the family from Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch, her brother Roger, her daughter Carolyn, and his son, David. They are all used to communicate a message in blood written all over the house. The message reads,“She Approaches.” The only member of the family aside from Barnabas unaffected was Cousin Quentin and that’s because he’s a werewolf. This creates and explains the animosity and uneasiness between him and Barnabas. In order to discover the identity of this threat, the Collins participated in a séance, which unfortunately for them released Angelique’s spirit, enabling her to posses her statue and come to life. I loved the initial mystery of who the villain was, as well as the way she used and manipulated the family. It made her a really strong smart and cunning antagonist. I wish that they held the mystery and reveal of who was behind the haunting and possessions. As it stands, the reveal was far too quick and actually lost some luster. Her ability to do what she wanted and take control of any one or any situation made her virtually unstoppable. It’s no wonder why Barnabas wants nothing to do with her, not only because she turned him into a vampire, but also because she uses and abuses his family members to her whim as bargaining chips for his affections. She’s a real b**ch. She makes out and then kills the bartender at the local bar, because she knows Carolyn has feelings for him. In order to sustain her corporeal form, Angelique must drain the life force out of others. With that set up, coupled with the scene of Angelique levitating Carolyn over a cliff with the whole Collins family watching, I was sure this book was going to end on a cliff-hanger. Instead, the Collins are able to defeat Angelique by distracting her long enough that she begins to turn back into stone, as a result of not having absorbed enough life force. Barnabas finishes her off by smashing her over the head with his cane. Really? After building her up so much and having her go up against a vampire and a werewolf, that’s the best they could come up with? I was underwhelmed.

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Art was handled by both Aaron Campbell and Gulu Vilanova. This book is set in 1971 and the art in the characters clothing definitely reflects that. Speaking of the characters, they all bear a striking resemblance to their TV counterparts. This is especially true of Barnabas, Dr. Julia Hoffman and Carolyn. I loved the visual of the mansion on the bluff. Not only is it beautiful imagery but it’s the perfect setting for a vampire story. The page where Angelique haunts Barnabas through a nightmare sequence reminded me of the scenes in Suicide Squad when Enchantress went full on uber witch. Maybe it was all the green color scheme in both scenes. The most bloody or gory scenes were Barnabas feeding on a human and going too far, as well as his fight with Quentin in full werewolf mode. I hope we see more of Barnabas in vamp mode and Quentin in full Wolfman rage. Cover artist Francesco Francavilla’s covers are all spectacular. Each one looks like it could be a homage to the old-school Dracula film posters and I love old school film posters.

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This book did a great job at giving us background on the main characters and providing
fan service for fans of the show, yet made it confusing at times for people first experiencing the Dark Shadows world. The villain was strong, but ultimately poorly dealt with. The length of this first story was the true problem and really handcuffed the writer’s ability to tell a story that feels complete and that you as a reader, got your money’s worth! I’m willing to return for more because I want to see what happens with Barnabas and because I believe there is a great Dark Shadows comic book story to be told!

#SuperheroSunday Comic Book Review: The Judas Contract

(Submitted by Prince Adam…who was “Super” patient with me when I went on my unscheduled posting hiatus in Japan. 😉 Thanks, Super Friend. I’ll be all caught up soon…ish. 😉 xoxo)

“They were Earth’s teenage defenders–unbeatable and unstoppable. Riding high, they took an eighth member–a young girl–into their ranks. She was their downfall. From the retirement of Robin and Kid Flash, to the birth of Nightwing and the introduction of Jericho, to the ultimate betrayal of a Titan–“The Judas Contract” still has fans talking today!” (DC Entertainment)

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I tracked this graphic novel down for two reasons. First, due to the overwhelming recommendations from friends who have read it. Secondly, I’m still so pumped over Ben Affleck revealing a video on social media, showing that Deathstroke will be part of the DC Films Universe. Also, with Joe Manganiello playing and he might have a cameo in a post credit scene for Justice League, before appearing in Ben Affleck’s standalone film, The Batman. So I’m primed for a good Deathstroke story and The Judas Contract fits the bill. While most of the story involves Deathstroke, there is a prologue in my volume of this story, where the Teen Titans take on Brother Blood. Brother Blood is the eighth person to wear the mantle. He is “Religious Leader” of the Church of Zandia. He ages much slower than a normal human and has intense powers of persuasion, due to his supposed possession of Jesus Christ’s prayer shawl. Realistically though, he is a cult leader who seduces wayward teens to his cause. He brainwashes these teens against their parapets to do his bidding. He also wants to expand his cult to America and beyond. To accomplish this end, Brother Blood has the President of Zandia in his pocket, and is secretly trying to achieve an arms deal with the U.S. only to turn on them later. The Teen Titans get involved, and while Brother Blood’s persuasion messes with Raven’s mind, the new girl, Terra, is able to bury Brother Blood for good. I enjoyed Brother Blood as a villain. Even though he seems like he’d be over the top, he was a multi layered villain. He seems like a mix of Benny Hin, Charles Manson and Donald Trump. He’s got the religious, cult leader, and crazy politician all rolled into one person.
This prologue gives us a good sense of the Teen Titans as a team. I loved the way they planned and compartmentalizing their attack. You can tell they’ve been working together for a while, they are a well-oiled machine. They’re more than just a collection of sidekicks thrown together. What I liked the most about this particular story is that the characters act like teenagers. Kid Flash teases Robin about his costume. Ok, everyone teases Robin about his costume. Beast Boy flirts with Starfire and Terra; he’s your average 16 year old boy. Terra and Raven are both outsiders in the group, with Raven being the extremely eccentric “weird” one. You have Dick Grayson, Donna Troy and Wally West, who are the elder statesmen of the group. They’re exiting their teen years, becoming adults in their own right. These characters experience and feel things that you’d expect teenagers to go through. All that’s missing is the high school setting. Although, there is a scene with a few members of the group being home schooled, which makes sense given their heroic endeavours. Wolfman and Perez didn’t shy away from changing the status quo. Robin has given up the mantle of Robin and by story’s end, embraces the moniker of Nightwing. Donna Troy is engaged and planning her wedding, while Wally West is retiring. This trio of Titans is graduating from high school, as it were, and moving into adulthood. The emotions and experiences all our heroes went through, felt authentically teenaged. The prelude story drives home the point that the Teen Titans are more than just a team of heroes and friends, they are a family.
Even the main story has the theme of family running through it. The entire reason Deathstroke is hunting the Teen Titans, is to fulfil a contract his son Ravager had on the Titans, at the behest of H.I.V.E. The situation with the Titans is even more intense for Slade Wilson, because Ravager’s death came during an altercation with the Titans. As Deathstroke is hunting the Titans, his ex-wife Adeline and his estranged son Joseph, are tracking him down and offer to assist the Titans in defeating Slade. This family strife, stems from the fact that Slade’s uncompromising moral code of not negotiating with terrorists, got his son kidnapped, throat slit, and rendered Joseph Mute. When you see Joseph join the Teen Titans as Jericho and attempt to restrain his father, you can see the sadness, remorse, and love both Jericho had fir each other. This coupled with the Flashbacks had me feeling sympathy for Slade at one point. In the Flashback we see Slade Wilson, honorable military man, who serves his country dutifully without qualms or question. He was the best and brightest recruit, rising up the ranks at unprecedented rates. He met, fell in love, and married his supervisor, before being nominated for a special government program, which turned him into a super soldier. The only blemish on his record was going against government orders to rescue SAS Office Wintergreen, a man who had saved him from death in Vietnam years before. After being ex communicating him from the army, he becomes an assassin for hire. You can’t really fault him for his loyalty. Also, his back story being set in real world war such a Vietnam, makes him a more empathetic character.

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As the assassin Deathstroke the Terminator, Slade is very much a mirror of Batman. He has a code of ethics that he strictly adheres to, not harming innocents. He only goes after those he is contracted to take out. Like Batman, he is fiercely dedicated to his cause, to the point where he sacrifices his chances at happiness and peace with his family. Also like Batman, Slade’s only confidant and friend is Wintergreen. He is essentially Deathstroke’s Alfred. He’s both a butler, tech support and a partner to Slade in his assassin activities. As an assassin, Slade is phenomenal. He’s methodical and precise. He uses Terra to infiltrate and learn intimate details about each of the Titans, to the point where he’s comfortable in attacking the Titans in their relative home environments. This is Deathstroke’s version of Batman’s principle of prep time. Okay, come to think of it, Deathstroke would be a perfect villain for Ben Affleck’s Batman film. Now I really want it. Back to the comic books. The only real reprehensible thing Deathstroke does in this story, is attack the Teen Titans, while manipulating and using Terra as an inside man, and getting her to go along with it. Also, the fact that he’s middle aged man having sex with someone who is 16, definitely increases his “creep factor.” Speaking of Terra, she was written incredibly well. I absolutely believed her as the innocent, naive, fresh faced superhero, even though I knew she was working for Slade Wilson. Later, at the tail end of the book, when she goes balls to the wall crazy, I found myself believing that as well. Mainly because, you could see her conflicting feelings on Deathstroke and the Titans throughout the book. Also, I was shocked to see her absolutely break and go full psycho at the end. The fact she was so hell bent on destroying Deathstroke and the Titans that it lead to her death, essentially via her own powers. This was surprising to me as well, as I managed to stay spoiler fee on this story, even after all these years.

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In addition to having a great writer in Marv Wolfman, this book has one of the best, (arguably the best) comic book artist in George Perez. His action sequences are so chaotic yet detailed. I loved the depiction of Terra’s powers of controlling and manipulating Earth. It can be as small as lifting rocks, or pulling pillars out of the Earth. I really like the diversity of the animals that Beast Boy transforms into. A snake, bear, and a bird. Even if those animals don’t get a full page, the detail is incredible. Speaking of detail. There’s a panel where Dick Grayson tells the rest of the group he is retiring the Robin persona. During this scene, we see a reflection of Batman and the Bat-Signal in the window. It’s incredible imagery. Deathstroke’s costume is s simplistic, yet looks so perfect. Sometimes, 100% spandex looking costumes look ridiculous, even in comic books. However, in George Perez’s hands, Deathstroke’s two toned colored costume is as BADASS as the character wearing it. Not all the costumes looked great, though. Nightwing’s costume looked horrendous, as did Jericho’s. Looking at them definitely dates the book. They’re a product of their time. Brother Blood looked like the devil from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. While I love Bugs Bunny, that design aesthetic doesn’t fit here. It makes me yearn for the Scarecrow rip-off version of Brother Blood that Arrow used on TV.

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A few art wobbles aside, this book holds up incredibly well. What it does so successfully is make us care about the team, as well as all the characters individually. It presents the team with a foe that, theoretically, they should not beat. The overcoming of that foe then becomes a David Vs Goliath story of sorts. The group stands on their own two feet, and the fact that many were once sidekicks, isn’t an issue. As I mentioned, these teenagers actually act their age and feel like real people. These aren’t teens as seen through the lens of Beverly Hills 90210 or Dawson’s Creek! If you want to learn more about Deathstroke, this book is right for you! If you’re tired of that ridiculousness that is Teen Titans Go, this book is definitely for you! It’s a must read for long-term fans of DC Comics, yet is easily accessible for new fans to the material. If you haven’t read this, go out and hunt for this, like Deathstroke hunts his prey.

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Ho-stess’s PS- #TeenTitansGo4Evah!!!