#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!

#SuperheroSunday Comic Review: Smallville Season 11 #16-18

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Fiend! 😉 xoxo)

“Superman battles Batman at Stryker Island prison–and it’s not as one-sided a confrontation as you might think! Meanwhile, Nightwing mixes it up with Green Arrow.” (DC Entertainment)

The book continues Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe right where last issue left off, with Batman and Superman squaring off.  What I like about this fight is that it breaks away from the mold when dealing with this familiar altercation. This isn’t about Superman reigning in Batman at the request of the government in DKR, or Batman’s paranoia over Superman going rogue being manipulated in BvS.  For Superman the conflict is about Batman manhandling an inmate at Stryker’s Island Penitentiary in unlawful ways.  For Batman, Superman is standing in his way of getting information regarding Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents.  The man who Batman was vetting for this information was Bruno Manheim, who appeared around Season 4. This was one of several callback’s to the show throughout.  The fight was very even in that both heroes got the upper hand. Superman flicks Batman with his finger and sends him flying pretty far! Bryan Q, Miller makes it obvious Superman is holding back. Hell, he even has him say that he doesn’t want to fight.  In a nice rare treat, Batman doesn’t use Kryptonite. Instead the Bat insignia on his armor is rigged to emit red sun radiation, dampening Superman’s power.  That’s damn clever and something rarely employed by Batman during these conflicts. Given Bruce Wayne’s resources, it makes some sort of sense Bruce Wayne would outfit his suit, with such tech. As I said though, Superman wasn’t portrayed as a chump here, clearly giving as good as he got.  Nightwing even remarks that Batman had fractures everywhere.  Bruce seems almost gleeful to have survived his encounter with Superman.  Even Batman is admitting that all things being equal, Superman would have beaten him. I also loved that both Clark and Bruce discover each other’s identity. Turns out, Batman has been tracking the weirdness all the way back to Smallville. The caves, specifically the cave paintings and the Kryptonian symbol burnt in the sky as a result of Zod’s red sun towers from the last couple seasons of the show.  I love that even in the show universe, Batman is ever the detective.  I know the show’s creators wanted to have Bruce Wayne on the show but weren’t able to.  This is a nice way to tie him to the shows past mythology, even if we never saw him.  Superman is far too often played as someone who rushes into a fight, without asking questions, or truly knowing his adversary. Thankfully, Bryan. Q. Miller uses Superman’s reporting skills to good measure.  Clark remembers Bruce Wayne’s voice from a previous conversation.  Despite Batman disguising his voice, Clark’s super hearing detects the delineation.  He also uses deductive reasoning to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman being in town at the same time, all the while weaponry from Gotham City has arrived in Metropolis, is no coincidence.

Once Batman tells Superman why he is after Bruno Manheim, to ultimately find his parents killer, Superman agrees to help him.  There’s a great interrogation scene where Superman flies Bruno Manheim into the sky, threatening to drop him, before ultimately dropping him on the hood of the Bat-Wing.  This sequence reminded me of when golden age Superman, used to threaten to drop criminals and female abusers off of building rooftops.  There’s a great exchange where Oliver Queen admits to being jealous of Batman’s “toys” especially the stealth flying Batwing.  Speaking of Oliver Queen, he and Chloe are investigating encrypted emails being sent to him by Lex Luthor.  Lex of course denies the accusation, but we learned that it’s Tess Mercer’s mind/spirit, which is possessing Lex and sending warnings to Oliver. This remains such an intriguing way to keep Tess Mercer around, even though the show killed her off.  In a way, a great element of Smallville was watching Lex’s inner struggle to remain good or embrace evil.  Since he has embraced his true nature of villainy in this book, this Tess split personality/sleep conscience angle, is a fresh way of bringing that internal struggle back to Lex. Though, they’ll have to clarify exactly what this manifestation of Tess is, because it’s getting somewhat confusing.
Jamal Igle picks up art duties for this three issue stint, and overall, I really like what he does.  Much like the other artists who have drawn this book, he draws Chloe and Oliver Queen perfectly. His Lex Luthor is quite strong but other artists on this book have done a better rendition of Michael Rosenbaum.   I will give Jamal Igle credit for to date, drawing the best, most accurate version of Erica Durance as Lois Lane.  The page where she is on the roof using binoculars and conversing with Superman hovering in the sky, really is a great depiction.  However, several volumes in, I’m not happy with how Superman is drawn.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where he looks like the actor that played him, then there are moments where the comic book looks nothing like his TV counterpart.  Oh, and what’s with the long hair? I mean seriously, how hard is it to draw Tom Welling? The image of Batman with the red sunlight emitting from his logo reminded me of the heavily armored suit drawn by Alex Ross in his “Justice” maxi-series from a decade ago.   My favorite Superman image is him holding up Bruno Manheim in mid-air threatening to drop him. As I alluded to, it gave me Golden Age goosebumps.  I also love the Smallville flashbacks to the Native American caves and the battle with Zod. It brought me back in time, reminding me how much I miss weekly viewings of Smallville! I’ve got to give credit to Jamal Igle for drawing a BADASS Bat-Wing.  If you look at it, it’s a cross between the Batman 89 version and the Batman V Superman version.

Now more than ever, I love reviewing this book in three issue installments.  It allows me to spend a longer tome enjoying Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe.  So far, so good. They’ve made their introduction, had their fight, and to end this episode of issues, I can’t wait to see a proper team up between these two icons! Celebrate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s recent one year anniversary by experiencing Smallville’s take on this iconic meeting of the World’s Finest!

Comic Book Review: Fathom: Blue Sun

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam, who was very brave to tackle this, as he knows I love Aspen and Michael Turner with every bit of my heart and soul… 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Heroic Ho-mie, and I hope all my lil’ Kinkbots are having a very Happy NCBD! 🙂 xoxo)

“There are two worlds. The one we know, and the one below. Aspen Matthews was a marine biologist who, in a failed experiment, discovered that she is actually a water nymph, able to live and thrive beneath the water.” (Aspen)

The first I’d became known of Michael Turner was his turn as artist on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman book. More recently I’ve tracked down Witchblade, initially because it was being drawn by him. I’ve constantly seen Fathom artwork at my comic book store and at conventions I’ve attended. Every time I see it, I say to myself; I’ve got to read that. Well, thanks to a New Year’s sale on Comixology, I found my opportunity. While the art is certainly a main draw for purchase, the mystery surrounding the story definitely hooks you in. We first meet Aspen Matthews in flashbacks at age 11. She is a stowaway on a ship that had disappeared 10 years prior to the beginning of our story, only to be mysteriously found in San Diego. Our young protagonist has no memory, history, or name. So she is taken in and adopted by the ship’s Captain Matthews. When our story picks up in present day, the little girl is now in her mid to late 20’s. Her name is Aspen Matthews, a former Olympic swimmer and now a Marine Biologist. Yes, when setting up this story, writer Michael Turner makes it obvious, painfully so, that our protagonist feels at home in the water, as though she was born to be one with it. So if the cover to issue one doesn’t hint that water would be a major theme then the prologue to issue one most certainly will. Things get more unique when she gets recruited to Deep Marine Discovery Limited to research underwater habitat 1200 feet below sea level. When the underwater habitat that Aspen and her crew are in, is accidentally hit by a torpedo the vessel is capsized, fully submerged in water, where most of her crew dies. Fully submerge under water Aspen feels at peace, and calm. She is greeted by humanoid individuals wearing alien armor, who can seemingly manipulate and communicate with the water. They swim away from her, when they realize she is being rescued. When she regains consciousness in a hospital bed she shrugs this group of individuals off as hallucinatory visions as a result of almost drowning to death. She even recalls having similar visions after almost drowning during a scuba diving training, years earlier.

Those “humans” in the water weren’t a vision caused by a near death experience but instead are a race of aquatic humanoids known as The Blue. They hail from a place known as Chanarnay, which is beyond the Earth’s crust. For decades, there has been conflict within the ranks of The Blue. The majority want to live separate, and peaceful from the surface world. Another faction wants to attack and subjugate the surface world for all the atrocities they’ve committed. Aspen learns she is a member of The Blue, and that years earlier an attack by the extremist sect of the race, lead to the death of her parents, the disappearance of her brother, and caused her to flee, which lead her to find her way to that missing boat and onto the surface world. In the intervening years, two members from both sides of The Blue have been keeping tabs on her. Killian is the extremist trying to win Aspen’s favor, while Cannon Hawke is trying to recruit Aspen to help him keep Killian’s machinations at bay, Killian gets to her first, luring her in by teaching her how to use her abilities. Killian tricks her into helping him create a doomsday type weapon known as the “Blue Sun.” This weapon is a ball of energy in space, which is powered by three underwater stations. With this weapon, Killian intends to drill a hole in the Earth’s crust to reach The Blue’s home of Chanarnay. When Aspen see’s the destruction and loss of life this will ultimately cause to Earth, she begins to regret and question her involvement. It is here, where she is approached by Kyla, a spy in Killian’s ranks who is working for Cannon, so she defects and helps them try to destroy the “Blue Sun” and defeat Killian. I’ve left out several key surprises and the books finale for those who haven’t read it. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what unfolds.

The idea that there is a race of aquatic humanoids living in the depths of the Earth’s waters and in the Earth’s crust requires suspension of disbelief, yet I can let myself go there because we’ve explored so little of the Earth’s waters, who knows what’s truly down there. I love the idea that there was political upheaval within the ranks of their civilization. While Killian’s end game is somewhat unclear, what we do know of it reminds me of Zod’s plan in Man of Steel, where he wanted to terraform Earth into New Krypton. So maybe Killian wanted to turn Earth into New Chanarnay. While I wish this was further explained, what Michael Turner did fantastically was give us enough backstory and interaction with Aspen Matthews, so that we as readers got excited and cared for the character, prior to all the sci-fi trappings kicking in. In doing so, it intensified reading and seeing Killian’s plan unfold because as that happens, we are learning about the history of “The Blue” as well as learning about Aspen’s true nature. One thing that wasn’t clearly defined, is what exactly “The Blue” are. Is their origin rooted in Atlantis, I’m not sure. Atlantis as their home is never mentioned. Also, “The Blue” aren’t confined to the water. They have flying ships, so they could very well be aliens. I’m hopeful that we’ll get an answer as I progress with the story. I will say that it doesn’t bother me not knowing right now, as I’m a sucker for speculation, even if it’s my own.

I could sit here and write Michael Turner’s art is amazing and end the review there because it’s true. However, I’ll point out a few specifics while I’m at it. First off, every character in this book looks like they could be cast in a show on The CW. Holy Hotness Batman! I mean seriously, if you’re a man, and hey, even a woman in some cases, there’s no way you can look at Michael Turner’s rendition of Aspen Matthews and not get aroused. Or maybe you can and it’s just me. In that case, never mind. For the women who prefer men and the men who prefer men, don’t worry, this comic book has eye candy for you too. Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt this book to draw some plain average looking people. Just saying, not everyone looks like a super model you know! The San Diego view is also beautiful! Damn, this book makes me want to take a vacation. Michael Turner’s pencils combined with Jonathan D, Smith’s use of gold and orange for sunlight and sunset, along with the crystal blue water make San Diego look stunning. The only other selling point one needs, is that Comic Con takes place there. The armor worn by The Blue, as well as their aircraft and weaponry look crustacean, which is the perfect aesthetic for these aqua based humanoids. The image of the Blue Sky disrupting the water and for moments nearly flooding the Earth, make the flood described in the Bible look like a light sprinkle of rain. Also the scene where Aspen battles the beam of energy of the Blue Sun, called to mind the scene where Superman battles the World Engine in Man of Steel. Such a great final set piece for this book and that film.

I’m glad I came to the Fathom party this late. It means I have plenty of work by the late, great Michael Turner to get to! What this book shows me is that Michael Turner was a strong writer with a fantastic idea, He was blessed with talent on both ends of the comic book creative spectrum and brought it to life. I can’t wait to read and review more. Also, Fathom NEEDS TO BE A MOVIE! I have the perfect choice to play Aspen Matthews, our very own Miss Kinky Horror, Diana Prince herself. No, I’m not just saying that to kiss the bosses ass. Nor am I saying that because I want to see her wet and in a bikini, though there’s no denying that is a vision of true epic-ness and beauty! I sincerely believe she’d be great in the role. So make it happen Hollywood! (Lol Yeah, yeah…That raise is a comin’!! 😉 xoxo)

Comic Book Review: X-23: Innocence Lost

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam, and a perfect complement to #InternationalWomensDay…Thanks, my heroine-hailing ho-mie! 😉 xoxo)

“Collects X-23 (2005) #1-6. Now the full story can be told – witness the machinations behind the origin of X-23 – who she is, where she came from, and the exact nature of her relationship to Wolverine.” (Marvel Comics)

I recently reviewed Wolverine: Old Man Logan, as it in some ways influenced Hugh Jackman’s last film as the adamantium clawed mutant. Before you read my review of the film (coming soon), let’s look at another book that undoubtedly influenced the film, “X-23: Innocence Lost.” They’ve tried to recreate the Weapon X program before but not quite like this. Creating a clone of Wolverine, or more specifically a genetic twin of Wolverine is such a fantastic proposition, I wonder what took Marvel so long. Writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost avoid any repetition with the Wolverine story by making X-23 a female. What I love about this decision is that it wasn’t done, or at least doesn’t feel like a PR movie, the way Jane Foster becoming Thor did, or whoever the female Iron Man is. Here, X-23 is a female because the male Y chromosome is damaged and fails to bond with the mutant gene during the experiment. So after 22 failures, Mutant geneticist Sarah Kinney decides to double up on the female X chromosome. She does this in secret as she gets strong objection and opposition from the director of Weapon X Dr. Martin Sutter, and his chief surgeon on the project and head of operations, Zander Rice. I feel that their objection to the future of the Weapon X – Program being a female, and the fact that Sarah did it anyways was a play on comic fans fear of change and over-reaction and negativity towards established popular name brand characters being altered or gender bent. I’m okay with it as long as the change is story dictated. I really appreciated that this story was focused pretty exclusively on X-23 and didn’t rely on an appearance from Wolverine. He only appeared at the start of the book in flashbacks to establish a connection between the original Weapon X program and this new iteration. I was very surprised at the purpose behind creating X-23. It wasn’t grandiose. Magneto and Mister Sinister weren’t trying to enslave humanity, or wipe out the mutant population. This was simply a genetics company trying to recreate the Weapon X program, to sell an assassin with the claws and killing prowess of Wolverine to the highest bidder. The simple monetary reason behind Dr. Sutter’s motives are refreshing, disturbing but refreshing. Zander Rice’s motives on the project are more personal. His father was killed by Wolverine in his berserker rage during the original Weapon X program, so he wants to use X-23 to kill both Dr. Sutter and Wolverine, as revenge for his father’s death. While I understand his motives, of the two, he’s more of a douchebag because of how he treats X-23.

I was going to comment on this book exploring the nature vs. nurture theme through the character of X-23. However, it’s more nurture vs. brainwashing/conditioning and which one will ultimately win out. Dr. Rice treats X-23 like a rabid animal, keeping her in a padded Asylum type room. He rigorously trains her heightened sense of smell like one would a hunting or police dog. He sends her out on violent killing missions, to showcase her and to brag about her skill to perspective bidders. This is something that I’d imagine someone involved in underground dog fighting would do, which makes it even more sickening. The most inhumane moments of treatment X-23 receives at the hands of Dr. Rice, including sharpening her bone claws, then coating them with adamantium, without the use of anesthetic. The second overtly horrific moment was when he left young X-23 at the mercy of an AIM firing squad because she was “late” to a rendezvous point, without knowing the extent of function of her healing factor. The nurturing X-23 gets is from the woman who gave her life, Sarah Kinney. We see Sarah comforting X-23 after a tough training session or mission, wiping away her tears when she cries .and cuddling her while she sleeps. She even reads Pinocchio and other fairy tales to her, in an effort to counterbalance the violence and harshness and horror she is participating on. Most importantly she gives X-23 her human name, Laura. The programing and brainwashing clearly worked early on, as she had no problem mowing down everyone from mafia dons, or drug dealers. Her killing isn’t reserved for criminals, as she has no problem killing a Presidential candidate and his entire family, at the behest of Dr. Sutter and Dr. Rice, However, Sarah’s mothering skills also have an effect as X-23 spares the life of Dr. Sutter’s son, despite killing him and his wife. She also uses her mutant ability to rescue Sarah’s niece from a child kidnapper. By book’s end, despite killing Dr. Rice in the hopes of running away from the Weapon X program with her mom, Laura kills her mom after Dr. Rice triggered her berserker rage, by secretly applying the trigger scent to Sarah, hours before his final confrontation with Laura. The book ending on this note actually makes things more intriguing going forward, as the journey of a dark, tortured hero, trying to find their way and seek redemption or not, always ends up being exciting.

Art for this six issue miniseries was handled by Billy Tan. His art was very sleek and modern. It’s from the same style as Brett Booth. First and foremost I love the two claws instead of three. Throw in the single claw on each foot and it makes her so visually distinctive from her three clawed male predecessor. Tan does a great job drawing X-23’s disguises when she goes on missions. Seeing her posing as a girl on crutches in one mission and a girl scout selling cookies on another mission, is believably distracting to the point where even I bought her as this meek, innocent child. That is a sharp contrast to seeing her as X-23, blood red eyes in full berserker rage when she kills her mother on the last few pages. The art perfectly displays the internal struggle of the character. There was violence and blood in this book. The two most violent pages were the end scenes where X23 kills the vice president and his family, and later when she kills Dr. Rice. Sure the battles are bone breaking and you definitely sense that, but 99% of the time, all you see is excessive blood splatter. Yet, I only counted one or two times where you actually see her claws pierce into someone’s skin. Only once, do you see someone lose a body part as a result of Laura Kinney’s claws. After reading two volumes of Deadpool and Wolverine: Old Man Logan, this book definitely skimmed on the violence by comparison. I feel this book merits more intense depictions of violence and I feel somewhat cheated.

This book continues the hot streak of being a great book set in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe that I have reviewed here. This book did a great job of intriguing and maintaining my interest in a character I had previously only had a passing awareness of. I’m glad they didn’t rely or force feed the character of Wolverine onto this story. This book needed to establish Laura Kinney as a character and get the reader to invest in her on her own merits. I feel this book succeeded in that regard. Plus, now they can save the first meeting of Wolverine and his genetic twin/somewhat daughter for later and maximizing the hype, instead of blowing their proverbial load in the first story arc. I look forward to reading that story and many more. If Laura aka X-23 is half as awesome in Logan as she is in this book, then I think FOX may have the answer to who will eventually replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Do yourself a favor…READ THIS BOOK!

Comic Book Review- Gotham City Sirens: Union

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Superest of Sirs! 😉 xoxo)

“Hang out with the bad girls of Gotham City! Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are tired of playing by other people’s rules–regardless of which side of the law they’re on. These tough ladies have a new agenda all their own, and they’ll use any means necessary to pursue it. But can they get along and work as a team? And who will get hurt along the way?” (DC Entertainment)

I knew this group was a thing, mainly due to their interactions in Batman: The Animated series and later additional animated shorts. Somehow I missed out on the debut of this book in 2009 and in all honesty, I’m slightly ashamed by that fact. However, the three characters in this book are my favourite female characters in the DCU, along with Wonder Woman of course. Since the announcement of the Gotham City Sirens film, I’ve been looking for anything I could get my hands on regarding these three characters, eventually stumbling on this book. The first six issues chronicle the formation of the Gotham City Sirens. This book is definitely in continuity with DC books at the time. If you were keeping up with DC at the time, it will enrich your reading experience of this book. If you weren’t, enough general information is given so you won’t be lost. What you need to know is as follows; Batman is presumed dead by his allies, but is really lost in time. As a result, Dick Grayson has taken up the cape and cowl of his mentor. Meanwhile, the villainous Hush has had facial reconstruction surgery and is know the spitting image of Bruce Wayne. Armed with intimate details of his former friend, he intends to tear Bruce’s name and life apart from the inside out. The Riddler has apparently shunned his criminal ways, with Edward Nygma serving as a private investigator. The Joker, Batman’s arch nemesis is nowhere to be found. The book picks up with Catwoman returning to Gotham after the near death experience of having her heart ripped out by Hush, who as I mentioned, is posing as Bruce Wayne. Catwoman’s life was saved by Zatanna and some serious magic trickery. Catwoman still isn’t feeling right and when she is nearly defeated by a C list thug trying to make a name for himself, Poison Ivy comes to her rescue. She then takes Catwoman back to see Harley, who has been staying with Ivy ever since her breakup with the Joker, followed by his disappearance. When Catwoman realizes that Ivy and Harley have commandeered Riddler’s apartment, she finds he’s hopelessly in love and trapped under Ivy’s spell. Catwoman admonishes them, and question what they did with the cut of the money she gave them after the original Hush storyline. Naturally, Poison Ivy donated her portion of the money to the Costa Rican Rainforest Fund. Harley Quinn meanwhile has frivolously spent her money on shopping sprees and got scammed into sending her cut of the money to a Nigerian Prince. When Catwoman realizes that her fellow criminals, as well as herself are somewhat lost and adrift, she proposes that they not only join forces as a team, but also live together in the abandoned dog and cat shelter Catwoman is having retrofitted as a home. They agree and the Gotham City Sirens are born.

Paul Dini is a master at handling these characters. While we know both Catwoman and Poison Ivy to be dominant, fierce, and seductively in charge women, Dini reminds us that these villainesses have a heart and motherly instinct about them. I love the idea that despite their different views and methods, there is a solidarity in place between them and they look out for each other. At different times, each character becomes the “mother” of the other. This makes sense, given Catwoman’s nurturing nature towards cats, as well as Holly Robinson. Then you have Poison Ivy who considers all pant life her children. In the larger team dynamic, both Catwoman and Ivy are motherly figures to the naïve, childlike innocence that is Harley Quinn. Yes, I say that knowing that Harley is full on bat-shit crazy. Everything is not all copasetic between our new trifecta at first, as Harley and Ivy subdue Catwoman and use one of Ivy’s potions to discern the identity of Batman. This plot point serves as a great reminder that while theses 3 are friends, they’re still supervillains, and would turn on each other if they felt it absolutely necessary. Through flashbacks, Paul Dini crafts an interesting loophole as to how Catwoman is able to resist revealing Bruce Wayne to be Batman. Years earlier, Catwoman visited Talia al Ghul, who used Yoga and mystical potion of some sort to create a scenario in Selina’s head, that over the years several men have been Batman. These men included Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon. Selina believed this tale so vividly, that even Ivy’s elixir couldn’t detect it as a lie. To my knowledge, this story point is new to this story, yet Paul Dini works it in seamlessly, having me believing it actually happened in a previous story I read. It didn’t, I checked.

The predominant action beats of the story focus on Harley Quinn, with fake Bruce Wayne aka Hush out to kill her. Actually, he wants to kill all three of the Gotham City Sirens for ultimately turning on him and double crossing him during the original Hush story, he’s just chosen to start with Harley so he can gain info on the other Gotham City Sirens and draw them out into the open. Harley saves “Bruce Wayne” from being mugged and in return, he takes her for a night on the town. What Hush intends to actually do, is find out the whereabouts of Poison Ivy and Catwoman and then kill her. As crazy and as tough as Harley Quinn is, it’s incredible how easily she falls for the suave playboy act and how needy she gets when a man shows her attention. We’ve known this about the character but I think the impact of this mentality is lessened in the animated series. Keep in mind, I read the six issues in succession, so Harley Quinn’s naïve more submissive demeanour towards men comes off stronger in this book. Catwoman and Poison Ivy arrive just in time to save Harley. While Poison Ivy tends to Harley. Catwoman contains Bruce Wayne/Hush. In their brief interaction, you could feel Catwoman’s contempt and hatred for Hush. The beauty of this moment is she wants to kill him, but the world doesn’t know he’s Hush. They think he is Bruce Wayne, so she has no choice but to let him go, and that drives her insane. That isn’t the end of trouble for the Gotham City Sirens because The Joker comes crashing through the Sirens new home with his Joker mobile. He berates Harley, blames her for making him go soft, and vows to kill her. I see a lot of people on Social media claim the Harley and the Joker pairing as relationship goals, but this segment of the book, reminds readers, why this relationship is not the standard to strive for. The Joker took a strong, independent psychiatrist, and mentally broker her, turning her into a naïve childlike woman, submissive and dependant on a lunatic, while being partly crazy herself. Remember, this is coming from a guy who loves the character of Harley Quinn.

When the Sirens regain consciousness and dig themselves out of the rubble that remains of their new home, they convince Harley to lead them to one of the Joker’s main hideouts. She takes them to an abandoned ware house, where the Joker is waiting for them. He sets a trap detaining the other girls, while separating himself and Harley. As he has her tied up and is doing a grandstanding monologue prior to finishing her off, the biggest twist of the book occurs. Harley Quinn is not being targeted by the Joker, but rather his former sidekick Gagswoth A. Gagsworthy. He harbours resentment towards Harley because as previously stated, she changed the Joker, who tossed him aside in favour of her. The thing about the Joker bait and switch, is I didn’t see it coming. The banter between Harley and Joker felt so authentic to the crazy couple, that I didn’t even consider a possible fake out. Since Paul Dini is the co-creator of this relationship [, the fact that he was able to misdirect me so flawlessly, should come as no shock. This plot point gave us two sets of flashbacks involving The Joker. The first focused on his time with Gagsworth by his side. These pages featured a more flamboyant over the top Joker. In the flashbacks with Harley, we see a more violent, sardonic Joker. I love that it was something so simple that set him off. One night, after’s Harley insisted on going in a joy ride in the Joker mobile, a bunch of street hoods make fun of the Joker and his car. He shoots them, and from that point on, vows to put all his flamboyant over the top gimmicks and weaponry in storage, never to be used again. That something so minor such as name calling could drive The Joker over the edge, not only to shoot someone, but to go down an even darker and psychotic path, shows how off his rocker the Joker must be right from the get go. All it takes is a little push. The Gotham City Sirens escape Gagsworth, and the book ends with Harley swearing off The Joker forever, before ultimately changing her mind because Gagsworth wasn’t the real Mr. J. Catwoman and Poison Ivy roll their eyes at Harley’s comments, as they drive away to their next adventure.

Guillem March is the artist of this first story. Since this book, he’s continued to get work in the Batman corner of the universe. So the folks over at DC Entertainment clearly like what he brought to the table on this book! Rightfully so, as his work on this book is fantastic. His art showcases a lot of range. His covers evoke a pinup style of photography, and it is reminiscent of the current DC Bombshells book that is available monthly. The scenes with Catwoman/Talia and Batman/Riddler have an earthier gritty feel about them. The Harley Quinn pages are very bubbly and just pop with imagery and color. They kind of remind me of Katy Perry’s video California Girls! Sadly cupcake covered boobs didn’t make an appearance. The flashback Joker sequences were especially good. The flashbacks of Joker and Gagsworth in battle against Batman and Robin looked like elaborate story boards for the Adam West Batman show. Everything from costumes, to look of the characters, over the top giant props and color pallet was on point with the show. The one where Joker gives up on the gags and kills those thugs gets a much darker tint and color palette. Even the line work looks to be pointier. I see a lot of the Killing Joke homage happening here. Two of my favourite images in the book are the Joker mobile crashing through the window of the abandoned animal shelter, and Ivy manipulating a cactus to grow large enough to shield them and the remainder of the shelter from further attacks by the Joker. That second image reminded me so much of the scene in Guardians of the Galaxy when Groot grows large, acting as a shield to protect his team,

This was a great start to open this book. Since this first story arc focused on Harley Quinn, while the other two played supporting roles, I hope future arcs will each focus on Catwoman and Poison Ivy respectively. Judging by this initial story, it’s a shame this book only lasted 3 years. However, it means that I still have 2 and a half years of story to read and review. Hopefully, the immense popularity of Harley Quinn and the forthcoming Gotham City Sirens movie will lead to a relaunch of this title!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: JLA Vs Predator

(Submitted by Canada’s Superoheroic Sweetheart, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

“They’ve hunted the Dark Knight Detective. They’ve gone after the Man of Steel. Now they’re prepared to go after the most challenging prey imaginable: the entire Justice League of America. The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes go up against the galaxy’s deadliest hunters in JLA vs. Predator. When a group of Predators arrive on Earth, they make targets of each of the JLA members — relishing in the thrill of the hunt. They engage in the ultimate sport of attempting to kill the most powerful heroes ever known.” (DC Entertainment)
When I first read Batman & Superman Vs. Alien & Predator, there was a reference to this showdown with the JLA.  I knew then and there, that at some point, I had to track it down and read it.  I have, thus the review you’re reading right now. What I like about this book is that once again, it is very accessible to new readers to both the franchises.  If you don’t know the Justice League, well there’s something wrong with you, so seek help! Seriously though, if you haven’t read JLA, there’s a blurb on each member to catch you up to speed.  I love that the team is the one from Grant Morrison’s run on the book. So of course, you have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. What I love about this team, is it features The Flash and Green Lantern I grew up with. So that means Wally West is The Flash, Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern and Aquaman is the badass with a beard and his hook hand.  Basically, it’s the version I think will closely resemble Jason Momoa’s version in the film.  The book also keys in on more minor, underused characters like Marian Manhunter, Plastic Man and The Atom.You also get the need to know, about the Predator’s too. Alien race that hunts for sport, have stealth fields at their disposal , making them invisible when they want to be. As well as having a vast array of shoulder and wrist cutting weapons that make them lethal.  Oh and of course, they like to take the head and or spinal cord of their victims as a trophy.  The way the Predator’s are brought in is great.  They are actually chasing the Dominators, another group of alien villains in the DC Universe.  The Dominator’s seeking out refuge from the Justice League, highlights just how much of a threat the Predator’s are. Also, having Martian Manhunter running point on guarding the watchtower, while a little convenient, makes sense. Being an alien, with a vey alien appearance, he would show more compassion, to the Dominators plight, even despite the fact the Dominator’s tried to take over the world years before. In an attempt to protect the Dominator’s he teleported above the watchtower, Martian Manhunter is decapitated by a Predator laying in wait. While having that happen further strengthens the Predator’s as an ultimate villain, Martian Manhunter is also reinforced as an absolute badass too! I knew his only weakness was fire but as a result of his decapitation, I learned that his brain resides in his chest/stomach area, In all my years of reading, I never knew this.  Although it was weird, I found it extremely cool.
When the rest of the League discovers what happened to J’onn they instantly join the fray. J’onn tells them that  the dominator’s he rescued told him three other Dominator’s remain scattered on Earth, running from Predator’s. I loved this because it forces the Justice League to actually go worldwide.  The Team breaks apart into three teams.  Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Plastic Man head to Venice.  Green Lantern, The Flash and The Atom are stationed in the Amazon, while Batman and Superman do a two man recon in London, while Martian Manhunter heals. While they do find the displaced Dominator’s, they are also attacked by Predators.  Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. The different groups of the Justice League must face off against Meta-Predators. These are Predators who were captured by Dominators and then experimented on. They now have the ability to mimick and take on the Justice League members powers. This was a smart play by writer John Ostrander. Espescially since Batman and Superman have fought Predator’s on their own before and won.  He had to up the threat level and Predators with the superpower’s of our heroes does the trick. It forces our heroes to get creative, split up and still work together at the same time. While their are plenty of fisticuffs exchanged, our heroes gain the upper hand by deciding to fight a Predator of an opposite power set. When captured, the Meta-Predators decide to blow themselves up rather than surrender.  The book doesn’t end on a somber note though, The Justice League sets a course for the Dominators to return to their home. Before their depature there is a great exchange between Superman and the leader of the Dominator’s. The Dominator remarks that he doesn’t understand why the Justice League helped them after all the harm they’ve caused. Superman responds, saying that hopefully the Justice League’s actions will one day inspire the Dominators to do and be better. It is that hope that drives the Justice League to do what they do. This book may have been written in 2001, but this message of hope is more preavalant now then ever before.
Graham Nolan is the artist on this book. He was one of the artists on the Batman Knightfall saga.  There are similarities involved in the art but you can see a slight change in styles from his 90’s work, to his early 2000 work.    One of the things I really appreciated is that at a given time, their were three alien races on the page at one time. All three, the Predators, the Dominators, and the Martian Manhunter, looked unique and distinct.  Granted, this should be the obvious occurrence, especially since the characters already had pre-existing and differing designs.  However, as someone who is writing a comic book featuring two alien races and working with an artist to make those aliens a reality and look unique from each other, I know how difficult that is. So I  applaud this feat whenever I see it.  I love the art in the scene with Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Plastic Man are in Venice. As I’ve, mentioned, I’m of Italian heritage and having been to Italy several times, the look of Venice was incredibly accurate.  Also, the fact that Plastic Man was both Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s navigator, and actual boat for their gondola ride, was a beautiful, weird and funny image all at the same time.  There’s a shot of Aquaman fighting a Predator under water.  I’m a sucker for underwater battles, so I’m biased but look at that image and tell me it doesn’t look spectacular.  I thought it was fun seeing the Meta-Predators wearing darker coloured armor that reflected their Justice League counterpart.  It was subtle and never took me out of the story, but was a nice little touch.  My favourite imagery from the book is seeing Martian Manhunter’s head on a spike and then seeing his head regrow, forming through his stomach/chest. It was the most shocking, powerful and gruesome imagery of the whole book. Although, it would’ve looked even better as a full on splash page if you ask me.


This book was fun, simple and quick to read. I loved that it held the previous encounters with the Predators and Batman and Superman in continuity. Usually one shots ignore continuity and just tell a self contained story. as a result of that, I realized that I’m still missing out on the two previous encounters. Sure, I’m reading this out of order but the stories are so good, it doesn’t bother me one bit.  Plus, it just means I have hopefully, two more awesome stories I can read and review for you. While I do that, definitely pick this book up and give it a read if you haven’t already.

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol 1

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Superfriend! 🙂 xoxo)

Dive into the first collection of our best-selling, modern, ongoing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. After escaping Rita Repulsa’s mind control, Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, joins the Power Rangers to combat the onslaught of evil attacks plaguing Angel Grove. Any semblance of a normal life is gone for Tommy now, but with his newfound family there lies hope for a brighter path. Collects issues #1-4, plus the prequel issue #0.  (Boom Studios)

 

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Power Rangers.  My childhood love of both Batman and the Power Rangers inspired my younger self to join Karate. I thought, in doing so, I’d grow up to be either Batman or a Power Ranger. Sadly, neither happened but I am a 3rd degree black belt, something I’m tremendously proud of. I thought it was very smart that this book picks up after Tommy Oliver/Green Ranger had broken free of the mind control of Rita Repulsa. This was one of the most popular characters and storylines in the franchise’s 20 + year history and was a great choice to insure long-time fans would come back and give this book a chance. This book pays homage to what happened in the show, yet also goes its own way with the story.  On the show Rita Repulsa traps Tommy and essentially uses a mystical green candle that strips Tommy of his powers, so she can steal his dragon dagger and his power coin thus taking control of the Dragon Zord. The zord will defeat the Power Rangers, with the dragon dagger and power coin being manipulated to open a portal, which eventually released Lord Zedd upon Earth.  This book has Rita Repulsa preying on Tommy’s quasi PTSD over the events during Rita’s mind control of him., as well as questioning his place and role on the Rangers team, to mess with his psyche and interrupt his connection to the Dragon Zord. She then creates a replica of the dragon dagger, which allows her henchwoman Scorpina to take control of the Dragon Zord. With the Power Rangers and the Megazord distracted, Rita uses magic to create a crystal that absorbs Tommy’s power. That power is then used to create a portal that brings a greater threat to Earth, who at books end, destroys the Power Rangers command center. So you can see similarities in the story and end game of the TV shows Green Ranger story to the comic, but the book does take some different paths, similar to the way the Star Trek ongoing comic book does, by telling stories in the rebooted movie universe, based off of episodes set in the original William Shatner series.

 

Writer Kyle Higgins does a great job of updating and aging up the material, while keeping true to the original source material. I was glad that I could read this as a 33 year old man and enjoy the story immensely, instead of having to channel my 9 year old mindset that allowed me to enjoy the over simplified kiddie elements of the original show.  Having said that, my inner 9 year old was immensely satisfied as everything I enjoyed about the show, was present and accounted for. What I noticed was the character of Scorpina had a much more expanded role in the comic book, then the TV show, quite honestly, Scorpina came off as more of a badass then Rita Repulsa here.  Also increased was the connection between Zord and Power Ranger. Tommy’s mental state and being in turmoil with some of his team mates, affected his control of the Zord’s. I loved this, because it connected man and his machine on a deeper level. This book essentially Pacific Rimmed how the Zord’s work. While it’s not exactly the same, you can see a similarity. That’s cool though as it’s an extremely smart story conceit. Also, Pacific Rim is basically a “grown up” version of Power Rangers anyways.  The group dynamic between the teenagers, specifically the core five Power Rangers, consisted of an extremely tight knit group. They were always together. A modern day Scooby Gang if you will.  A better analogy would be Saved by the Bell: Angel Grove Class. They were always together, morning, day and night. They even had the same classes. I know it was the same way in the show, but I hate when shows and comic books do this because it’s not realistic. Anyone who’s ever been to high school knows you and your core group of friends can’t be attached at the hip 24/7, nor can you have all the same classes. The interesting dynamics came from the core 5 Rangers’ interaction with Tommy. While Trini and Kimberly welcomed him with open arms, Zack and Jason were skeptical and a little untrusting of him, given his past with Rita. Jason and Tommy also clash on their approach to battle, and being Power Rangers, far more than they did in the original series. These types of things occurred in the TV series, but were glossed over because it was a kid’s show. Another interesting thing in the book had all 6 heroes struggle with internal issues and decisions.  We’ve already discussed Tommy’s problems.  Kimberley is frustrated and stressed out dealing with her parents’ divorce, constantly being pulled in two different directions and more literally, two different houses.  Trini is thinking about whether there’s a life outside super heroics.  She wrestles with the idea of becoming a doctor and following her parent’s footsteps.  Meanwhile, Billy, the genius of the group, struggles with self-confidence, as he feels he doesn’t have the physique, and his abilities don’t compare to the rest, when it comes to being a superhero.. All these aspects, make these 4 characters two dimensional. Zack and Jason seem to be the straight laced boy scouts of the group but that’s okay, every group has one or two.

 

Hendry Prasetya handles the artwork for these first four issues. While I’ve never heard of him, his work is great.  While the story took details in a different direction then the TV series, the artwork was 100% faithful.   One thing I noticed was the costumes for the Power Rangers, specifically how much better and cooler they look on the comic book page. Look, as much as I liked the television series, the lycra/spandex outfits the actors wore looked ridiculous, all except the Green and White Rangers, their uniforms looked badass regardless.  While the Power Rangers costumes look much better on the comic book page, Rita Repulsa still looks laughable and she did on the show too. I’m sorry, but there’s no way that outfit looks good or threatening at all.  However, Scorpina looks more menacing. When you think about it, Scorpina’s armor looks a lot like Rita Repulsa’s armor in the new upcoming movie. I’m really looking forward to that by the way!  The morphing scenes had the exact look and multi-colored lightening effects that the show did.  The Rangers command center sitting on the cliff looked like a screenshot from the show.  I have four favourite images from this book. The first is the Megazord and Dragonzord defending the San Francisco Bridge from one of Rita’s monsters.  The second is the training virtual reality sequence, where The Green Ranger gets swarmed, overwhelmed and defeated by horde of Putty Patrollers.  The third image was the Dragonzord coming out of the water ominously. The shadow work on this page was great.  The image itself, is a hybrid of Jaws and Godzilla visuals. The final shot of the book of the Command Center crumbling into dust is a standout because, a structure that houses such power, crumbles like a child’s beach sand castle. The dichotomy and irony of seeing that situation is incredible and almost unbelievable.

 

Nostalgia and the desire to read the Power Rangers/Justice League crossover led me to read this book. As a fan of the Power Rangers from the early days, I am absolutely satisfied with this book.  If you are a closeted Power Rangers fan, there’s no reason to be. However, if you are, this is the book that will help you show off your Power Rangers love to everyone, geeks and non-geeks alike. So head to comixology, or your local comic book store and buy this book because….IT’S MORPHIN TIME!

 

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!

#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.

#SuperheroSaturday: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Heroic Ho-mie! This is perfect for today… 😉 xoxo)

“See Wonder Woman like you’ve never seen her before in WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON, an original graphic novel from Eisner Award-winning writer and artist Jill Thompson. Join Princess Diana in her early years, as she develops into the formidable hero we know and love.” (DC Entertainment)
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This book is a unique interpretation of Wonder Woman. The book is essentially Smallville for Wonder Woman. At the tail end of the book, we get Diana in Wonder Woman attire and setting off for her super heroic adventures in man’s world. The  focus is on the origins, specifically highlighting Themyscira as well as what drove Diana to become Wonder Woman. In this book, while Amazonia was distant from other areas of man’s world, the Amazon’s still lived and interacted  with men. Things went awry, when the majority of men complained that the Amazon’s were a scam and corrupting their daughters, almost as a cult would.  They call on Herakles to battle with Queen Hippolyta and vanquish the Amazon. The wars were fierce and brutal, with death on both sides of the ledger.  As the battle rages on, Hera discovers that Zeus admires and is enamored with Queen Hippolyta and plans to secretly join her army and get intimate with her, before swaying the war to Herakles and man’s side.   Hera teams with Poseidon, to grant Hippolyta and the Amazon’s safe passage from Amazonia to the island of Themyscira.  Themyscira is still a secret and secluded island, but the fact that it is an island that was used to keep the god’s most prized possessions and secrets hidden. It’s fitting then that the most prized and  powerful, unique and  ancient civilization in the DC Universe resides there. I applaud writer Jill Thompson, for writing in scenes that tell us that Themyscira was rather baron of culture and civilization, prior to the arrival of Amazon’s. Through the years, it was turned into a peaceful, loving society. They excelled in a variety of facets. Art, clothing and food were some highlighted. Usually, when we see Themyscira in other books, it is a fully formed and functioning society, Having it inferred and seeing snippets of what make’s that society tick, on day to day life  was a nice change of pace. If the Amazon’s are all about piece and love, what are the purpose for the gladiatorial competitions.  In most iterations of the story, it’s to win the honor of going to man’s world, being both the ambassador and their champion, Here, the ceremonial war games are a tribute to all the fallen Amazonian’s, who lost their lives in the battle with Herakles and his forces. To me, this reason is a little more powerful because hit hits close to home for the Amazon’s, and tugs on the heart strings of the reader, more than the traditional explanation does.
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In terms of Diana specifically, this book goes with the made of clay iteration of her origin. Full disclosure, the clay origin is my least favorite of Wonder Woman origins. I always imagined one of the god’s playing with play dough, leading to the creation of Wonder Woman. I prefer her origin as the daughter of Zeus a la the New 52, or even the daughter of Hercules, as seen in Wonder Woman: Earth One. Having said that, Jill Thompson did a wonderful job of making me connect to the clay version. This book sees Hippolyta head to the sea every night. She sits by the sand and molds a baby, She then sings a lullaby to the lifeless creation, detailing how she would nurture and care for the child if it were real. Her sad songs are heard throughout Themyscira and reverberate below to Poseidon in the sea, and all the way up to the Gods of Mount Olympus. Zeus and the other gods are so moved by Hippolyta’s song and emotion. It brings them to tears. Those tears are imbued with life, manifesting as rain and when they hit the mold of the child, it is brought to life and begins to cry. Thus, Diana Prince is born. Showing Hippolyta in the light of a bereft mother broke my heart. No joke. I cried during this part of the story, I was so emotionally invested. When Diana let out her first cry I cheered. Suddenly, what once seemed hokey to me became very legitimate.  When the synopsis says that you’ll “see Wonder Woman like you’ve never seen her before”, they weren’t kidding, From childhood through to adulthood, Diana is a pretentious spoiled brat. Since birth she is thought of as a gift from the gods and constantly exalted. As a child., she would constantly throw tantrums when she didn’t get her way and play cruel tricks on her nanny to get what she wanted. She’d make her seamstresses start all over again if even one element of the garments wasn’t to her liking.  As she got older, she would always brag that she was the best of the Amazon’s, better then all her sisters. To prove it, she went to the darkest corners of the island to battle the various mythological creatures. When she subdued them, she trapped them in a silver serpent horn. Her fellow sisters were inspired by this and constantly wanted to be around her and part of her inner circle All accept Alethea, a stable maiden.  She won’t pay Diana any attention. When Diana questions her as to why,  Alethea say a persons actions are more important then their words.  So Diana  shadows her and tries to live a similar life. Alethea knows it’s an act and isn’t having it.
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Diana decides to join the Gladiatorial Games and feels that by winning the games, Alethea will see Diana’s honesty and heroism, becoming her BFF.  As Diana progresses in the games, she fears she may lose, so she pulls out the serpent horn and releases the monsters she had trapped in an effort to distract the other warriors and horses, long enough to win the final chariot race. However, her plan backfires and the creatures injure and kill both horses and Amazons.  Diana then enters the fray. Even she is being overwhelmed by the beasts. One of her fiercest competitors in the games leaps in to help Diana, but is bitten and thrown around like a rag doll. While the mythical monsters that remain flee the scene, the Amazons are horrified by the death and destruction Diana’s actions have caused.  When the warrior that was killed is prepped for burial, her head armor is removed to reveal Alethea. Diana was already distraught over what she caused, and after this reveal she is absolutely mortified. This is the revelation Diana needed to see how horrible of a person she had been. This leads her to her Bruce Wayne moment, where she vows to use her strength and abilities for good and to serve others. One thing that I loved  about this book is it’s presentation of Diana and how she actually had a character arc. There’s a transition of being spoiled and self absorbed, to realizing you were wrong, and dedicating life to something more and better. Diana is going through her own heroes journey in this book.  Many of the stories I’ve read, feature an already warm, loving and altruistic Diana.  There’s nothing  wrong with a hero being good from the get go, however in a coming of age/origin story like this one, that conceit can be very limiting. Despite Diana’s new outlook on life, she has to face punishment for her actions. Presided over by her mother, all the remaining living amazons vote on her fate. Screams of maiming, burning, and even killing her echoed through the crowd. However, there are compassionate voices in the crowd.  It is decreed that Diana would be banished from Paradise Island, only to return when she atoned for her behavior by being a protector on man’s world. The book ends, with Diana sailing away from Paradise Island. The whole scene had parallels to the “Shame” scene from Game of Thrones, and the scene where Jesus Christ was condemned to crucifixion. There is no Steve Trevor in sight but I like that her arrival on Earth isn’t tied to a man.  Even though her trip to Earth is a mission of atonement rather then the spoils of victory, the end game is the same, while providing a fresh take on her path to heroism.
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Jill Thompson pulls double duty for this story and provides the artwork that emphasizes her words.  The art doesn’t look like your typical comic book art.  Instead, it’s more akin to art you’d see on a tapestry or on one of those collector plates.    In terms of her look, Wonder Woman closely resembles her Golden Age counter part.  I love that there was a practicality and reasoning for her costume. The Golden Girdle, lasso and bracelets are to remind her of her heritage. She carries the silver serpent horn as a reminder of her “deeds and miss deeds.” Her crown is enchanted like a crown of thorns, which she can’t remove until she has made up for what she has caused. There’s a great image of Herakles’ Army battling the Amazon’s, that is drawn in a map of Greece. To me, that is one of the most unique depictions of a war scene in comics. Another favorite image of mine is seeing a young Diana fly with the birds. It’s as riveting and impressive as any first flight scene featuring Superman. The Chariot races were so reminiscent of the scene in Ben Hur. When I say Ben Hur, think the good film but with modern visual effects.  The mythical beast all looked different, and while they had traits of modern animals, were very much mythical in nature. The color contrasts in this book are exceptional. When you first see Themyscira thee is a lot of blue, white’s and green, which give the book a sense of hope,  In the scene where Hippolyta is singing her whaling song to her clay sand child, the color is predominantly grey and black.  When the monsters attack the pages are overwhelmed by deep red and some shadows. The page where Alethea gets bitten and tossed around in the monsters mouth is particularly unsettling. The art and colors used in all scenes puts you in the frame of mind of the Amazons, as the events unfold on the page. Who needs virtual reality technology, when comic book art is immersive and expressive!?
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Wonder Woman celebrated her 75th Anniversary and this year, is finally getting her first live action big budget film.  To celebrate these facts, I will review various forms of Wonder Woman media this year. I’ll be looking at more graphic novels, the animated film and the television series to name a few. Follow along with my celebration of Wonder Woman, the Queen of the superhero genre buy buying and reading Wonder Woman: The True Amazon.