Reviews She-Hulk Sensational #1

She-Hulk Sensational #1Erica gives this comic three starsComic book review for Marvel’s She-Hulk Sensational #1 by Peter David and Brian Reed

She-Hulk turns 30 this year. And of course, since her character’s off playing dead in the current Fall of Hulks saga and Marvel marketing wanted a story, editorial decided to give us some flashback tales. The first is done by David, She-Hulk’s last writer, and the second by Reed, who’s last endeavor was the recently canceled Ms. Marvel.

The issue also reprints Sensational She-Hulk #40 written and drawn by John Byrne. While I’m glad they didn’t reprint Savage She-Hulk #1 again, I think this story was a poor choice. Mostly because no one will get anything but the infamous jumping rope scene if they haven’t read the previous issues of Byrne’s She-Hulk as it’s all a bunch of references backwards. It needed a stand alone story.

Anyway, onto the new stories, which both get a 3-star rating for different reasons… Continue reading “Reviews She-Hulk Sensational #1”

Wonder Woman Wednesdays: All-Star Comics #8

Wonder Woman Wednesdays

All-Star Comics #8Now isn’t this a comic we all wished we owned? Or could go back to tell our grandparents to spend their ice cream money on.

The first thing that jumped out at me was Wonder Woman being presented as a hero we already know and love. Yes, William Moulton Marston’s going to give us Wonder Woman’s background. But at the same time, there’s a strong notion that Wonder Woman just saved our cat from a tree and gave us a hug. (This is what all Golden Age superheros do after they punch Hitler.) In a way, Wonder Woman’s set-up reminds me a lot of how Brian Michael Bendis wrote in Jessica Jones to the Marvel universe as an already existing hero who’s background was still a mystery. Of course, back when Marston wrote, I assume that’s what everyone else did too.

I think the opening paragraph’s very pivotal in setting up who Wonder Woman is. It’s as if I’m seeing Marston’s editorial pitch:

At last, in a world torn by the hatreds and wars of men, appears a woman to whom the problems and feats of men are mere child’s play — a woman whose identity is known to none, but whose sensational feats are outstanding in a fast-moving world! With a hundred time the agility and strength of our best male athletes and strongest wrestlers, she appears as though from nowhere to avenge an injustice or right a wrong! As lovely as Aphrodite — as wise as Athena — with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules — she is known only as Wonder Woman, but who she is, or whence she came, nobody knows!

First, Wonder Woman’s set up as superior to men. And here I don’t think Marston meant “men” as “humans,” but really “men” as “male humans” given women’s limited roles — especially when it came to power in politics and business — in 1942. Humanity’s problems are nothing to Wonder Woman. Not only can she beat them physically, but she also pounces them with her superior mind. Clearly, Wonder Woman could easily solve World War II.

Second, I think her coming out of nowhere is particularly interesting. Did Americans (and other Western cultures) of the 1940s long to be saved from their problems by others? (This is a particular contrast to the somewhat Americans-do-for-America or World-working-together sentiments of today.) Granted, you know Wonder Woman supports America’s side because she dons red, white, and blue, plus the stars and the eagle. Not to mention, Wonder Woman worshiped and was given gifts by the Greeks gods, who at the time, most schoolchildren were familiar with. And she’s beautiful and wise.

Third, Marston promises us he’ll give us all her secrets so she’ll be familiar. I like that Marston knows his audience. Clearly, he wants girls to read this. He wants them to love Wonder Woman the same way he does. These are American girls in an uncertain time, and Wonder Woman is the hero they can imagine helping their fathers, uncles, and brothers fighting in World War II. And keeping them safe… Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wednesdays: All-Star Comics #8”

Reviews Spider-Woman (Vol 4) #7

Spider-Woman #7Erica Gives This Comic Four StarsComic book review for Marvel’s Spider-Woman #7 by Brian Michael Bendis

I really need to stop telling people which comic books I like. Because similarly to my favorite characters being killed on TV, my favorite comic books seem to bite the dust quickly when I announce to the world how much I love them. Goodbye, Spider-Woman.

Or for now anyway…

I’m not really sure why this comic ended. For the most part, it sounded like Maleev wanted a break or was bored or something. Wow, there are so many things about my 9-5 job that I find boring and wouldn’t it be great if I could just say, you know boss, this is boring, how about I just read comics and review them instead for a while? Brilliant.

I guess part of my disappointment is this comic was a teaser for years. In August 2008, Jason and I decided to order our Marvel titles directly from Marvel. We ended up not continuing due to the time it took for Marvel to ship them (sometimes over 1 month later) and the condition they arrived in. Yes, I actually had to complain about my regular postal deliverer to her boss. And my comics still got bent.

Anyway, when She-Hulk was canceled back in April 2009, Marvel moved my 8-issue left subscription to Spider-Woman. Spider-Woman #1 came out in November 2009. It was canceled at issue #7, which means I still have 1 issue left with Marvel. (I’ll be getting the new Black Widow comic.) Doomed, I tell you. Continue reading “Reviews Spider-Woman (Vol 4) #7”

Announcing Wonder Woman Wednesdays

Wonder Woman Wednesdays

Back some time ago, I started collecting the hardbound archives which reprint Wonder Woman’s original adventures, starting at All Star Comics #8. Unfortunately, older comics tend to get pushed further down my ‘to-read’ pile for this week’s pull list or something modern I’ve been meaning to read. I also sometimes find myself ill-at-ease with Golden and Silver Age writing styles. So I’ve decide to push myself with Wonder Woman and her tales. Each Wednesday, I will make a post about Wonder Woman and her comics all the way from the beginning.

Wonder Woman fascinates me on many levels, including:

1. Wonder Woman is the first woman of superheroes and marketed toward young girls. She was very popular.

2. There’s a lot of muddled gray areas around the authorial intent of Dr. William Marston and his beliefs about women’s superiority and submission and his own personal interests in bondage and polyamory.

3. A lot of people bitch about Wonder Woman not being as great of a hero or as iconic as Batman and Superman when they’re supposed to be part of the DC Trinity.

4. Wonder Woman’s been relaunched, rewritten in a lot of different directions, and sometimes seemingly throw up to the editorial with a “I give up” sigh. Her movie’s been canceled again and again.

5. Wonder Woman’s become an icon for LGBT people, especially gay men. This largely has to do with the Lynda Carter TV show.

6. Wonder Woman theoretically could again be a big seller with women and gay men, who are not considered the primary audience of modern comic books.

7. Why does my friend Steve always skip the Wonder Woman-focused episodes of the Justice League cartoon?

In my posts, I may talk about the issue at length or I might focus on a certain theme in the issue or in Wonder Woman’s comics in general. Normally, I rate each issue I read; however, given the way Golden Age comics are, I may forgo a rating as I’m a modern consumer. I am committed to learning more about Wonder Woman through her stories.

How DC Loses with Greg Rucka’s Departure

Batwoman in Detective Comics
Yesterday at WonderCon, writer Greg Rucka announced he’s off Batwoman and finished at DC Comics. As a big fan of Rucka’s work and someone who’s particularly in love with his Batwoman run, I’m incredibly sad. Rucka will, of course, keep producing comics under his label Oni Press, as well as continuing to write novels.

While I won’t speculate on what went on behind closed doors between Rucka and DC Comics, I do know this: DC has lost a great talent. When I look at my own DC-reading, Rucka’s really the writer who made me read more DC Comics. With the exception of Batman: The Animated Series, a cartoon not book, I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan. Not due to any brand loyalty or rivalry or something equally ridiculous as pumped by marketers. But in that many ways, I’ve consistently found Marvel Comics more accessible story-and-continuity wise and my buy patterns reflect that. When I look at my DC Comics shelves, 40% of my DC Comics were penned by Greg Rucka. I won’t deny that I’m an author follower when it comes to my reading choices — probably a byproduct of my Creative Writing degree.

The biggest loss to DC Comics is the way Rucka made 70+ years of comic book continuity accessible to everyone. I started off reading Gotham Central by Rucka and Ed Brubaker. In Gotham Central, the themes and tone I’d so enjoyed in the children’s cartoon were actualized into an adult comic. Like the brilliance of the cartoon, I didn’t have to know Batman’s entire history. I didn’t have to know every villain or every character’s origin. Rucka and Brubaker brought individual characters to life and explored their stories, which is how both new and old readers got to know those characters. In this title, Rucka wrote the storyline “Half a Life” the best coming out story I’ve ever read — and I’ve read far too many — which featured Renee Montoya. Interestingly enough, Renee originally appeared in the cartoon, but was brought over, like Harley Quinn, to the main comic continuity. Rucka gave me and other readers a favorite character.

Then years down the road, Rucka created Kate Kane, the new Batwoman and ex-girlfriend of Renee. Kate came onto the scene with a ton of press surrounding her being a lesbian. DC got another diversity notch on its belt, but even better, they got an amazing character created and shaped by Rucka. With artist J.H. Williams III, Rucka took Kate center stage in Detective Comics, the longest continually running America comic book, and they put out what I consider to be one of best comic book runs of all time. And I’m nothing if not a bitchy, snobby reviewer. But then, for whatever reason, DC editorial changed their minds and pulled Kate out of the book early. There was an announcement about a solo Batwoman title with Rucka and Williams, but that’s currently not happening.

What the hell, DC? You really lost.

The second major loss I see for DC is the presence of Rucka as a thoughtful writer on panels and in the press. Last month at Emerald City Comic Con 2010, Rucka was suspiciously missing from the DC panel. I blogged about some of the atrocious shit coming out of Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler’s mouth in relation to the treatment of Lian Harper in Blackest Night and women-in-comics in general and how the panel clearly missed the presence of the-token-woman-in-residence Gail Simone, who’d canceled at the last minute. (Simone, her writing takes up another 20% of my DC Comics.)

Looking again, Rucka’s presence was also missed. Missed in that he’s thoughtful to women and women characters. Missed because in every other DC panel I’ve sat witness to either he or Simone or both of them are the ones to answer questions about women characters. Instead, this panel had Sattler and his boy’s club rhetoric and James Robinson’s unapologetic inability to write women characters, except as motivation for men. Good thing no one asked Geoff Johns why the Star Sapphires still wear less clothing than strippers. I don’t think I’ve witnessed such sloppy, offensive answers since San Diego Comic Con 2007 and to keep things even, that was a Marvel panel.

If I was DC, I’d be pulling out all the stops to retain Rucka as my top talent. And maybe DC did — no one knows how negotiations went — but somehow I don’t think they did.

Everyone keeps talking about how to retain readers and how to grow the comic book audience. How to get more women and minorities reading comic books. How do you do that? You retain talented and thoughtful writers such as Greg Rucka and hire more like him. You support the creation and growth of characters like Kate Kane and Renee Montoya. You support characters who that audience, that market-share you seem to want so badly, identifies with because those character look like them and act like them. You can’t talk the talk if you aren’t willing to walk the walk.

I know Rucka will continue to write wonderful characters, and I’ll keep reading his comics. Hey, and maybe someday, DC will look up and realize what they’ve lost. Because they are the true losers here.

Reviews Girl Comics #1

Girl Comics #1Erica gives this comic five starsComic book review for Marvel’s anthology, Girl Comics #1.

I really loved this comic. I loved being the audience. I loved that it showcased women writers, artists, and editors. Yes, not every story knocked me out the park with awesome. A few did though. I appreciate the spirit and the ability to discover writers and artists I might not have otherwise read stories by. Also I loved the cover of She-Hulk beating Iron Man in arm-wrestling by Amanda Conner and Laura Martin. And the biographical features on Flo Steinberg and Marie Severin nicely add historical context to women who’ve made a big impact on Marvel’s history. One part I didn’t like so much was Sana Takeda’s pin-up of She-Hulk. Her art style doesn’t seem to flow into drawing She-Hulk.

Onto the stories: Continue reading “Reviews Girl Comics #1”