#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1

(Submitted by Batman’s Bitch, Mr. Prince Adam… 😉 Thanks, Super Friend. You know I tease ya cuz I loves ya…and also because it’s true. 😉 xoxo)

“After a chance meeting with billionaire Bruce Wayne, Elmer Fudd’s obsession quickly escalates into stalking Batman through the dark alleys and high-class social settings of Gotham City. Welcome to Bat Season! And the bonus Looney Tunes backup story features DC characters written by Tom King and artwork by Byron Vaughns.” (DC Entertainment)

Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 is one of five one shot specials teaming up the DC Comics cast of characters with the Looney Tunes cast of characters.  I love DC & I love Looney Tunes, so these crossovers should be a slam dunk and this issue absolutely is.  How do the two worlds meet?  Well, in the case of this issue, writer Tom King places Elmer Fudd, a hunter on the hunt for a hitman who killed his girlfriend.  The hitman offers to make a trade, spare his life, in exchange for the name of the person who contracted him.  Elmer agree and the hitman tells him the contract was ordered by Bruce Wayne.  Elmer Fudd heads to a party at Wayne Manor and opens fire on Bruce Wayne.  Of course, Bruce escapes, switches his suit for his Batman costume and tracks down Elmer Fudd.  A fight ensues, Batman subdues Elmer Fudd, as he should be able to and convinces him that Bruce Wayne didn’t order the hit on his girlfriend. The two team up and track down the hitman to a bar filled with hitmen and seedy characters. Naturally a bar fight ensues and as they corner the hitman, he pleads and reiterates that he’s not the killer, pointing behind them.  Batman and Elmer turn around, and see Elmer’s girlfriend.  She says that she enlisted the hitman’s help to fake her own death, so she can get away from Elmer Fudd’s dangerous lifestyle as a hunter.  She walks out of the bar, while the three men enjoy a drink to end the first story.  The story is a traditional Gum Shoe detective story, especially with that swerve at the end, with the girlfriend being the mastermind behind it all. Judging by my commentary, you’d assume that Elmer Fudd was randomly dropped into Gotham City, just for crossover purposes.  However, Tom King cleverly works in some Looney Tunes references.  The bar that the hitman frequents is Porky’s, with the owner/bartender being the human version of Porky Pig.   Furthermore, the hitman accused of killing Elmer’s girlfriend is named Bugs “The Bunny” Woves.  The other hitmen and shady characters are made up of Looney Tunes archetypes.  We see versions of Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, even Sylvester and Tweety. I liked Tom Kings decision to make Bugs and some of the other Looney Tunes characters villains.  Had they been the exact status quo as their cartoon counterparts, the reader would have a hard time rooting for Batman or Elmer Fudd.  Also the reveal of classic Batman character Silver St. Cloud being Elmer Fudd’s girlfriend, is a fun way to further have Batman/Bruce Wayne cross paths with Elmer Fudd, instead of merely setting the story in Gotham City.  The interesting twist, for the purposes of this book, is that Silver St, Cloud dated Elmer Fudd first before Bruce Wayne, but left them both because of their dangerous lifestyles, highlighting a similarity between the two men.. The ending of this story featuring Batman, Bugs and Elmer drinking carrot juice and discussing Albuquerque is a nice nod to Bugs Bunny’s vegetable of choice, as well as a call back to a classic episode.

While the first story is set in the DC Universe, the backup story is set in Looney Tunes continuity.  It actually reads like a typical Bugs Bunny Vs, Elmer Fudd story.  Mr., Fudd is chasing Bugs because it’s Rabbit, or should we say, Wabbit season. To save his own skin, Bugs switches the sign to Bat Season, lights the Bat-Signal and calls Batman. Seeing the sign, Elmer switches gears and starts chasing Batman. After being thoroughly amused, Bugs Bunny ends up in a Batman costume, throwing Elmer Fudd into a little bit of a confused sate, just like the cartoon.  Also, just like the cartoon, he eventually figures out the ruse and continues chasing Batman.  To outsmart Elmer Fudd, Batman changes the sign to Robin Season, before summoning his various sidekicks who use this moniker.  As Elmer Fudd takes up the chase against the Robin’s, Batman & Elmer Fudd walk off into the sunset.  This book felt like I time travelled about 29 years to a Saturday morning long ago, watching The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. In this story, the writer is focused all on the laughs. It’s really a love letter to vintage Looney Tunes episodes. Both these stories show how malleable the Batman and Looney Tunes stories are, that they can tell two stories, with completely different tones and objective and still be recognizable to their brands and be entertaining on two different levels.

Lee Weeks is the artists for the main story.  It definitely has the feel of a gritty, noir detective story to match the story being told.  The art is definitely nowhere near as clean cut or crisp as your typical Batman or Looney Tunes comic book.  It’s got a scruffy look about it. This scruffy look makes Elmer Fudd look like a total badass.  It adds so much gravitas to Elmer Fudd’s trench coach and hat look.  Yet, Mr. Weeks manages to keep Elmer Fudd’s aloof, simplistic look.  I loved the human rendition of the Looney Tunes.  They all have distinguishing characteristics that give the characters away.  For instance Bugs has those protruding teeth he is famous for.  Although, I think they made the human Bugs more visually unappealing, so that we would gravitate towards Elmer.   Yosemite Sam  has his read mustache and beard, but it’s more of a goatee.  Instead of a cowboy hat, he now wears a bandana.  Bartender Porky looks as much like a literal pig as a human drawing could look.  It’s like the pig animation morphed to a human from screen to page.  Foghorn Leghorn has gone from a giant Rooster, to a sharply dressed African American card shark. I loved that there was diversity with some of the characters.  The card shark angle was great as well given that Foghorn Leghorn, in the cartoon often tricks and swindles the hens and the watchdog into getting what he wants.  With all this Elmer Fudd talk, I should mention that there is an exceptional image of Batman leaping down into an alley.  That is an iconic image in Batman lore but done from an angle we’re not used to seeing.  It’s worth noting that Silver St. Cloud is drop dead gorgeous, so it makes sense she could stop both Elmer Fudd and Batman in their tracks at the bar.  The art for the second story is done by Byron Vaughns. There’s not much to say except that it’s great and looks EXACTLY like the animation of Looney Tunes.  It’s so good, that it’s as if they just transposed film cells from the show.  Batman looks like an over exaggerated version of the character from Batman: Brave and the Bold.  The only complaint I have with this portion of the art is that when Bugs Bunny dons a Batman costume, he looks too much like Bat-Mite for my liking.

I expected to like this book but quite frankly, I straight up loved it!  It satisfies both fandoms with a story set in both the DC Universe and Looney Tunes lore.  If you’re a fan of both, this is your fanboy heaven. I can guarantee I will be reading and reviewing the remaining four one shots in this series.  Whether you go looney or batty over this book, I guarantee you are going to love it! So BUY IT and read it.  Until next time…. That’s All Folks!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Injustice Gods Among Us #7-9

(Submitted by out freaky friend, Mr. Dr. Prince Adam III…Thanks, Heroic Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

This trilogy of issues starts with a U.S. Missile strike in Bialya, on a stronghold of a Rebel Leader.  Before the missile could hit its target Superman intercepts it, destroying the missile.  While Superman was determined to stop the loss of any more life, after the tragedy that killed Lois and his unborn baby, the U.S. Military and government, all the way up to the President are furious that Superman’s actions have compromised their efforts in the region.  Fearing that Superman is on a dangerous road to totalitarian rule, the government puts off the books military personal in the charge of Mirror Master, in the hope of reigning Superman in.  Their plan is to kidnap the Kent’s, trapping them in a mirror dimension.  They then blackmail Superman, that if he doesn’t end this “My Way or the High Way” war on crime, his parents will be killed and pieces of their bodies will be sent to him. This only enrages Superman further, who quickly turns to Flash to learn more about Mirror Master.  Meanwhile, at the Justice League watchtower, Wonder Woman requests the help of the rest of the Justice League’s help in the search for Mirror Master and Clark’s parents. While the rest of the Superfriends, sans Batman and Green Arrow, who have defected, go on supervillain shakedown duty. Wonder Woman goes to another war torn area of the Middle East, Kandaq. There she literally gets right in the middle of a battle between fighter jets and tanks.  After decimating the heavy artillery, she urges the soldiers on foot to lay down their weapons, in a cease fire, while a peaceful dialogue can put an end to the conflict.  As this is unfolding, the God of War, Ares appears on the battlefield. After revelling in Diana’s handy work, he questions her about a potential romantic relationship with Superman. The snark in his comments offends Wonder Woman, they fight, so she cuts off his hand and impales him with her sword, leaving him alive, but pinned to the ground.  She then leaves the warzone with Superman in toe.  The book ends with Batman waiting for the President in the White House. He tells the President that he knows he ordered the kidnapping of the Kent’s.  While Batman, doesn’t agree with that tactic, he tells the President that Superman does need to be held in check, and that he is forming a resistance.

There are two reasons I came back to this book now. The first is that I wanted another book featuring Wonder Woman to read. Second, the sequel game and comic book for this franchise is out. The sooner I read this, the faster I get to play the new game.  I’m now 9 issues into this book and while I know where Superman ultimately gets to, as of this moment in the story, I don’t disagree with his stance or more aggressive tactics.  I don’t hold killing the Joker against Superman.  Now I’m not saying every superhero should start picking off their villains.  However, had Batman killed the Joker long ago, Jason Todd wouldn’t have been beaten to death and Barbara Gordon wouldn’t have been raped or killed.  Comic books like this raise a question about our heroes.  In scenario’s like this, with exceptionally vile villains like The Joker, is it okay for our heroes to cross that line and kill?  Secondly, he what I just realised about this book is that it is the Bizarro Dark Knight Returns.  In that book, the government is worried about Batman going over the edge, with Superman having to step in and reign him in.  Here, it is the exact opposit.  It’s kind of sad that it took me so long to put that together, but it seems extra awesome now that I have.  In the scene where Wonder Woman rallies the Justice League around Superman’s cause.  Even though some of his teammates find his actions towards the Joker questionable. They all rally because of Wonder Woman’s call to arms.  It speaks to what a respected leader she is amongst the group. She is no 1B leader. She’s every bit the leader of the JLA as Superman is.  Wonder Woman has always been a character that preached peace and love first and foremost, with fighting always being a last resort. For now, at this juncture of the story, that character tenant is upheld.  When she does let loose in the Kandaq warzone, the way she just dismantles the armed and air weaponry and gets those soldiers to stand down is impressive. It will give added presence to the name Wonder Woman.  Ares’ presence in these issues is definitely the highlight for me.  His concern over a romantic union between Superman and Diana is genius.  The idea that their union could bring about a true end to conflict and war, thereby rendering him useless and moot. Tom Taylor writes the fierce and all powerful Ares, as worried and emotionally distraught over this scenario. By the end of the last issue, Ares is very different then the brash, authoritative and condescending Olympian God, when he first entered the story.

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Jheremy Raapack is back on art for these issues and these three stories are his best work in my opinion.  I’m almost certain that Zack Snyder used this artwork as a reference image for the Africa sequence in Batman v Superman: The Ultimate Edition. The way Superman defuse that missile and the look on his face as he approaches it, looks identical in the film as it does in this book.    This artist has done great things for Mirror Master’s visual credibility.  I’ll take the supped up rogue SWAT guy with a mask, over the traditional green looking long johns, any day of the week.  His mirror dimension is described and looks like 10 square kilometers of reflective sky.  That’s fantastic because it doesn’t just look like a household mirror, while also being difficult to locate for Superman, and metahuman’s like The Flash.  It’s also tricky for readers to spot, as it could be literally anywhere on the page.  The best imagery of these three books is Wonder Woman slicing the tail end of a fighter jet with her sword and head butting a tank. Yes, I said head butting a tank.   I’m not all that fond of Wonder Woman wearing pants though. Partially because I love her film costume and have it stuck in my head.  Also though, because putting pants on her was often done to appease complaints that her outfit was to scantily clad.  I think that’s the type of censorship her creator would have been against.  As for Ares, he looks like a cross between Savatar from season 3 of The Flash and a Spartan soldier, in black armor.  I had hoped hope he looked even more similar to this in the movie.

Every time I read this book, I end up kicking myself for leaving it alone for so long.  The first nine issues are so good, some of the best comics I’ve read.  So good, that I’m curious to know if the rest of Volume 1 and the current sequel are as good as this. I’ll definitely find out more quickly, as I plan on making this book a frequent habit. First though, it’s time for a few more theater screenings of Wonder Woman.

 

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Batman 66 Meets Wonder Woman 77

(Submitted by Prince Adam on this glorious #WonderWoman Day…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“What mysteries are hidden in the book Ra’s al Ghul hired Catwoman to steal? And why does this caper lead Batman down memory lane—to his childhood fight against actual Nazis? Witness the Caped Crusader’s first encounter with one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known: Wonder Woman!” (DC Entertainment)

I always wanted to get into the Batman 66 comic book but something kept getting in the way.  When I heard DC were planning a comic book miniseries set in the world of classic Batman and classic Wonder Woman, I decide to add this to my special review list, leading up to the Wonder Woman film.  Well that film is here (YAY), so I finally got to read it.  This book puts you right back into the Batman 66 world, as we see Catwoman stealing two antiquated books,  only to be thwarted by Batman and Robin after a silent alarm was triggered.  The banter between the caped crusaders and Catwoman was spot on, right down to her flirting with Batman, and asking him to put in a good word for her at the parole hearing.  Writers Marc Andreyko and Jeff Parker even over accentuate the word purrrfect to the point that I can hear Eartha Kitt’s voice as I read Catwoman’s dialogue. The book does two distinct things differently from the TV show.  For the first time in this continuity, we get a story told partially in flashbacks, highlighting Bruce Wayne as a 10 year old and actually showing his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, who were only mentioned once on the show. Not only was it nice to see the Wayne’s in this continuity, it was even nicer to see them alive for the entire issue.  Usually in any incarnation, they are walking down an alley to their death.  The reason for these flashbacks, is to establish Bruce’s first encounter with the ancient books Catwoman stole and who she stole them for. The first appearance of the books in Bruce Wayne’s life, was 1940’s war time. Thomas Wayne was having an auction for the books at Wayne Manor.  In addition to undercover Nazi’s being in attendance, Ra’s Al Ghul and his then young daughter Talia are there as well. It makes sense why both parties wan the books too. The Nazi’s want the book for Hitler, so he can locate lost civilizations and mythical locales, to pillage their enhanced weaponry and turn the tide of the war in his favor.  Meanwhile, Ra’s al Ghul wants the books to gain access to these lost worlds and weapons to fortify the strength of his criminal organization, the League of Shadows worldwide and to find the location of Lazarus Pit’s around the world. Young Talia accompanies her father to the auction and he immediately unites the two, because he wants his daughter to end up with a man who’s family is of good repute.  This bit of foreshadowing put a smile on this Bat-Fan’s face.  It was great to see that Ra’s matchmaking machinations between Bruce and Talia carry over from the mainstream continuity to here, but start even earlier.  I love that this book can take villains who weren’t created when the series aired and put them through the lens of the show, yet still keep the core of who said characters are in the mainstream universe. 

The book does use a familiar troupe from the show. The villains waltz into Wayne Manor undetected. When fights ensue, priceless artifacts in Wayne Manor start getting destroyed.  This is where Diana Prince, Steve Trevor an Etta Candy make their entrance. The three characters we’re pretty much the status quo from Season 1, as both that season and this miniseries take place in the same time period. What both writers do as soon as Diana Prince makes her first appearance, is have her steal the show so to speak.  Batman’s name may be first in the title but the first two digital installments that comprise this first issue, are very much a Wonder Woman story.  I loved how awestruck young Bruce and Talia are over Wonder Woman and how even during the fight scenes, Steve Trevor for the most part, watches Wonder Woman do all the ass kicking.  The scenes near the end of the issue where Bruce and Talia use whatever they can to ward off Nazi soldiers and League of Shadow’s ninja’s solidify and remind you that these characters are destined to become the World’s Greatest Detective and the future leader of the League of Shadows. Speaking of Ra’s al Ghul, he comes off a silent threat, with over the top ideas.  That coupled with the search and race to get a hold of those ancient books, this issue had a mixed vibe of James Bond meets Indiana Jones with Wonder Woman smack dab in the middle of it!

David Hahn is the artist on this book and while his art looks more like animation rather than current comic book art, he certainly captures the look and characters of these two iconic television series. I love that the Catwoman featured in this book is visually represented in the form of Eartha Kitt.  The casting change was part of the series, so I’m glad that it hasn’t been ignored.  Catwoman slinking out of a window after a heist is an artistic highlight.  Seeing Batman, Alfred and Robin in the Batcave discussing the books, leading up to the transition to flashbacks, felt like film cells from the show had been animated and pasted right onto the comic book page.  I love the artist teasing iconic locations from the series in a pre-Batman setting. Specifically, the retracting library bookshelf.  Before it became an entrance to the Batcave, it was a tunnel exit to the garden. Speaking of the garden, there’s a great overhead shot of it and it’s shaped like a maze. I wonder how Aunt Harriet managed her way around it without ever getting lost. My favourite images are the two pages that comprise the Wonder Woman twirl and costume change.  It looked epic and in terms of color scheme matched the show’s opening credits to perfection.  The look of astonishment on Bruce and Talia as they saw this transformation hiding behind the bookshelf, was wonderfully appropriate!

I’m extremely happy with where DC Entertainment is headed in comic books, on film and on television. Though, it is important to revisit and respect the past from time to time.  There’s no better way to do this, then by reading this issue. I’ll be back with another issue review from this series after the Wonder Woman film. In the meantime, buy this book, it’s great.

 

Kinky Komic Review: Hellboy – The Corpse

(Submitted by my Wonder Twin, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, my hellishly heroic ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

The third volume of Hellboy consists of several short stories, so I decided to review them each on their own. This first story takes us to 1959 in Ireland, where Hellboy is brought in to investigate a child abduction case. However, when he arrives at the home, the child is in her crib. However, the child’s mother believes that the baby is not her daughter Alice Monaghan, citing that the baby says awful things and laughs at her, when her husband is away. Hellboy believes the mother and burns the child with a hot iron, forcing it to reveal it’s true form. Being a supernatural/horror book, that form is that of a fairy. This fairy named Gruagach instructs Hellboy that baby Alice is being held by other fairies. He confronts them and they offer him a deal; In exchange for burying one of their deceased brethren on the holy ground of one of three possible Christian churches, they will allow Hellboy to return the child to her parents. At two of the churches, the dead spirits rose up shouting; “No Room”, preventing Hellboy from burying the deceased skeleton. When they reach the ruins of a castle with a Christian cemetery, Hellboy is confronted by a disgruntled Gruagach who is furious over being burned with an iron and wants revenge. Things gets really weird when our angry fairy summons a Pig-Man to rise from deep underground, and battle Hellboy. Hellboy is able to defeat this strange adversary, while in the nick of time honoring his deal to bury the corpse the other farriers entrusted him with and returns Alice to the loving home of her parents.

After two volumes of Hellboy battling Rasputin and mystical Nazis, this was a weird and refreshing change of pace. When reading Hellboy, I’ve come to expect the unique and strange. Between his coworkers Abe Sapien, the mystical Nazi’s and the lizard creature in last volume, who knows what we’ll see our favorite horned paranormal investigator take on. Despite all this, I’ll be honest and say I did not expect we’d get a story with fairies. What Mignola does well, is once again balancing something as mystical as fairies, with a real world earth bound fear/predicament as child abduction. In the forward to this graphic novel, Mignola mentioned being influenced by Irish folktale for this story, which is something that definitely shines through in the work. The way the fairies spoke read like an Irish dialect. That, coupled with the fact that the fairies were little people, and that the corpse requested to be buried with gold had me thinking of them as leprechauns more than fairies. Once I made that connection, I instantly developed a craving for Lucky Charms cereal. The best parts of the story for me, was the banter between Hellboy and the corpse that he was tasked with burying, They argued about every possible detail along their journey, From everything to how Hellboy carried the corpse, to the road Hellboy took to eventually get to their destination. This reminded me of a relationship between a grandparent and their grandchild. As both get older, the little habits each have start to get on the other’s nerves, as they spend more time together. The Pig-Man creature cane across like a creepier more demonic version of lesser Batman villain Professor Pyg. I also couldn’t stop thinking of that Seinfeld episode where the gang were at the hospital, and Kramer was convinced he saw an actual man-pig hybrid.

As is usual with Mike Mignola, he also does the art. Superman’s signature pose is his hands on his hips, Batman’s is being crouched on a gargoyle and we all know Wonder Woman is a badass no matter what pose she assumes. Hellboy’s signature pose appears to be carrying a skeletal corpse on his back, as it’s happened in two of three graphic novels. While there are fairies, they aren’t your traditional fairies. In fact, the fairies look like the progeny of Golem and a Leprechaun. Try and get that image out of your head. Mignola’s art isn’t as hyper detailed as more current comic book artists, yet his rendition of Ireland, especially the castle ruins really looks great and makes me want to visit there. Well, that and the fact that Game of Thrones films there. Mike Mignola’s art looking so good is dependent on the work of the colorist. Matthew Hollingsworth was responsible for that aspect of this particular story. I loved the use of black, and then highlighting certain traits of Hellboy, while most of a panel is shrouded in darkness. Specifically in this book I liked how the orange/yellow of Hellboy’s eyes became more vibrant and noticeable when he was angered or frustrated. Even in comic books, the eyes can be the window to the soul.

This story was a quieter, more intimate story featuring Hellboy. I also liked that it was a Hellboy standalone story, in the truest sense of the word, as it solely focused on Hellboy, leaving out his associates in the BPRD. This story is by no means a game changer in the grand scheme of the stories relating to Volume 1 & 2, but it’s a nice little respite, while still giving you a Hellboy fix, as the next epic scale story surely approaches. Definitely worth a read.

#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.