Queen & Country (vol 4): Operation: Blackwall Graphic Novel Review

Queen & Country (vol 4): Operation: Blackwall Erica Gives This Comic Four StarsQueen & Country (vol 4): Operation: Blackwall by Greg Rucka
Art: J. Alexander

I almost feel sorry for Edward. Though he’s kind of a dope to think that Tara would ever want a real relationship; also that he wouldn’t figure out that the boss would know what they were doing and make it stop. (I’m betting it would even stop if they had a deeper relationship than just fuck buddies.)

I felt bad for Rachel Beck. She didn’t even know the whole story in the end. Instead, she was just heartbroken over Anton and he, her. Of course, this is story about how love doesn’t always happen the way it should be. Or the way you think it would be.

Edward and Tara just thought it’d be sex; and for Tara, it was. And Anton thought it’d just be sex, and both of them fell in love.

I’m glad that we got a glimpse of this side of Tara. I like the “softer” look at her without completely taking her down to some frilly, non-Tara like level. Of course, I expect nothing less from Rucka.

Alexander’s art leaves me a little cold. The lines seemed muddled, and I think I’d appreciate the art if it were clearer. Of course, that could be the point. Especially in a book about the affairs of the heart and the favors of the intelligence department.

Dive into the world of spies and broken hearts, buy Queen & Country Vol. 4: Operation Blackwall.

14 (More) Amazing Women of Comics

A while ago, I wrote a post about Strong Women of Comics I Like and decided to do a follow-up with even more women. So here are 14 more amazing women characters of comics I like.

Misty Knight
Misty Knight

Who: Misty Knight
Why she’s amazing: First, she runs her own detective agency. Second, she has a bionic arm. Third, I’m pretty sure she’s engaged to Danny Rand and dating Colleen Wing. (Okay, the latter may just be wishful thinking on my part.)
Where to read about her: Unfortunately, the most recent revamp of Heroes for Hire wasn’t exactly a triumph for women characters. However, Misty rocked as a supporting character in Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja’s Immortal Iron Fist.
My comic reviews featuring Misty.
Kate "Batwoman" Kane
Kate Kane

Who: Kate “Batwoman” Kane
Why she’s amazing: She’s freaking Batwoman. She’s just as stubborn, strong, scary, and inventive as her male professional counterpart. Not to mention she has some cool tattoos.
Where to read about her: Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s most recent run on Detective Comics was fabulous. It includes Kate’s origin story and you don’t want to miss the art. She’ll be back with a solo series penned by Williams.
My comic reviews featuring Kate.
Angie Spica
Angie Spica

Who: Angie “The Engineer” Spica
Why she’s amazing: Angie is connected to machines and computers, but not overwhelmed by them. She retains herself. Angie’s also a kick ass fighter and a good friend.
Where to read about her: If you’re new to the Authority or Wildstorm in general, pick up Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s run on the Authority.
My comic reviews featuring Angie.
Kara Zol-l
Kara Zol-l

Who: Kara “Power Girl” Zor-l
Why she’s amazing: Kara is smart, kind, down-to-earth, and can move the earth. She runs her own business and saves the world. Plus, she has as super cool, sassy cat named Stinky.
Where to read about her: Check out her latest solo title by Justin Grey, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner; it’s fun and lives in its own world so don’t worry if you have no idea what a Black Lantern is. Plus, Conner’s art is amazing, which makes it even more sad that the creative team’s changing.
My comic reviews featuring Kara.
Tara Chace
Tara Chace

Who: Tara Chace
Why she’s amazing: Tara might be a super spy by trade, but that’s the way she’s helping the world. She won’t settle for second best or give up. Even when she’s been shot in the leg.
Where to read about her: Tara is the lead character in Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country.
My comic reviews featuring Tara.
Gwendolyn
Gwendolyn

Who: Gwendolyn
Why she’s amazing: Okay, yes, Gwendolyn is not human — but she can talk, and moreover, she leads the Mouse Guard as its matriarch. She also oversees all the assignments of the guard. Plus, anything else they might need. Yes, Gwendolyn’s in charge of mouse security and that’s no small feat when there’s weasels, snakes, crabs, owls, and rebellious mice.
Where to read about her: In David Peterson’s gorgeous Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and its sequel Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.
Jessica Drew
Jessica Drew

Who: Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew
Why she’s amazing: Genetically-engineer by her father, double agent for Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., and replaced by the Skrull Queen, Jessica’s had a hard run of it. But she’s come out kicking ass and taking names. She’s Marvel’s detective and spy.
Where to read about her: See Jessica take down Skrulls in the recent Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.
My comic reviews featuring Jessica.
Cinderella
Cinderella

Who: Cinderella
Why she’s amazing: Cinderella appears to be an airhead who used to be a princess, but now runs a shoe store, the Glass Slipper. However, there’s more to Cindy than means the eye. Let her surprise you because I really don’t want to spoil you.
Where to read about her: Read about her in Fables by Bill Willingham.
My comic reviews featuring Cindy.
Bobbi Morse
Bobbi Morse

Who: Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse
Why she’s amazing: Bobbi is the only one sassy enough to have married Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. She’s one of the few non-super Avengers, and she also has something of a spy business on the side. Bobbi spends her nights with insomnia fighting villains as her chamomile tea.
Where to read about her: Jim McCann and David Lopez’s New Avengers Reunion will get you caught up with Bobbi. McCann also has a new series called Hawkeye and Mockingbird, which issue #1 already sold out and went into its second printing.
My comic reviews featuring Bobbi.
Julie Martin
Julie Martin

Who: Julie Martin
Why she’s amazing: Julie was a mess when we first met her. Newly divorce and completely broken by it. However, on a day trip to shoot photography, she becomes something unknown when the rain isn’t actually real rain and starts sticking to her skin.
Where to read about her: In Terry Moore’s Echo, you can follow Julie’s path to becoming a superhero of sorts.
My comic reviews featuring Julie.
Monica Rambeau
Monica Rambeau

Who: Monica “Photon” Rambeau (also “Captain Marvel”)
Why she’s amazing: Does Monica need to remind you that she once was on the Avengers? She can kick ass on a team and lead them well. She is also a good friend to Firestar, Hellcat, and Black Cat.
Where to read about her: Warren Ellis’ Nextwave and most recently, in Marvel Divas, a very poorly named series.
My comic reviews featuring Monica.
Frau Totenkinder
Frau Totenkinder

Who: Frau Totenkinder
Why she’s amazing: Frau Totenkinder is more devious than her aged-appearance lets on. She’s a witch, a very powerful one, and she surprisingly nonchalant about it. Frau Totenkinder will appear in more than one of your favorite Fables.
Where to read about her: My favorite Frau Totenkinder stories are in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, but you can also find her in the regular Fables series also by Bill Willingham.
Helena Bertinelli
Helena Bertinelli

Who: Helena “Huntress” Bertinelli
Why she’s amazing: Helena is both a school teacher and a hunter. She’s loyal and determined. Helena hasn’t always fit into life in Gotham City, but that’s only given her more layers and sometimes rocky relationships with Gotham heavy-hitters like Batman himself.
Where to read about her: Helena is an awesome addition in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey. Greg Rucka also does a great job at telling her origin story in Batman/Huntress: A Cry for Blood.
My comic reviews featuring Helena.
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

Who: Pepper “Rescue” Potts (also “Hera”)
Why she’s amazing: Pepper is just too cool. For years, she was side character in Tony Stark’s life; but with the successful Iron Man movies and Matt Fraction’s new series, Pepper is turning into a dignified hero.
Where to read about her: Pepper makes her first appearance as a superhero in Matt Fraction’s The Order and continues so in his Invincible Iron Man.
My comic reviews featuring Pepper.

Reviews Queen & Country (Vol 2) “Operation: Morningstar”

Queen & Country Vol 2 Operation: MorningstarErica gives this comic five starsQueen & Country (Vol 2) “Operation: Morningstar” by Greg Rucka

I love that this is a pre-9/11 story about Afghanistan. I love Tara being so pissed off that she can’t kick some Taliban ass. I love how Rucka just tips the scale to show the horror and terror without getting too detailed and keeping the book an international spy thriller.

I remember reading about the Taliban and doing reports on them pre-9/11. I remember thinking, why isn’t anyone doing anything, especially for these poor women. I remember being like Tara and wanting to change things. (Only instead of being a grounded spy, I was in high school/the year I took off in-between high school and college.) I didn’t bond much with Tara in the first volume, but here we were both on the same page. Continue reading “Reviews Queen & Country (Vol 2) “Operation: Morningstar””

Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Graphic Novels

I work in marketing, and we’re always putting together holiday gift guides. I figured I’d make a list of 10 excellent graphic novels. All of these can stand on their own, even if they’re set in the DC or Marvel universe. So yes, some are even for the non-comic book fan.

1. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina

Fables takes characters from fables, mythology, and other classic stories and puts them in present day NYC. They have a secret community in the middle of the City. The story focuses around Snow White, the deputy mayor of Fabletown, Bigby, the town’s sheriff, and Rose Red, Snow White’s sister who’s been tragically murdered. It’s a good who-done it. This story is a launching off point for the complex world of the Fables, so be careful because you’ll get hooked.

2. Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1) by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

This is another epic comic tale, but one that has a clear end at Vol 10. Basically, there’s an apocalypse where all the men and other male mammals on the planet are wiped out, except Yorick Brown and his monkey. While Yorick sometimes reminds me too much of loser ex-boyfriends in his directionlessness, the series has a bunch of kick ass women from tough government agents/spies to protective mothers. There’s mystery — what killed all the guys? Romance — Yorick purposed to his girlfriend Beth right before the apocalypse, but she’s stuck in Australia and him in the US. Fighting — The world has just lost half it’s work force, I don’t think Starbucks is going to stay open. Humor — Yorick has to pass himself off as a woman.

3. Runaways Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, and Takeshi Miyazawa

Notice an author theme? Runaways does exist in the Marvel universe. Though that doesn’t mean you need to be a Marvel reader. In fact, all the characters, teenagers and their parents, are created in this comic and for this comic. There are a few visits by other Marvel characters, but it’s set in LA, not NYC. (Don’t forget Wikipedia.) Plus, it’s friendly for all ages of readers. The main story revolves around how the teens find out their parents are actually super villains who are bent on destroying the world. Or at least turning it into a “paradise” of evil. The teens runaway and try to stop their parents. The teens are pretty diverse in their backgrounds with the backing of an interesting, universal story of thinking your parents are evil and out to get you. Runaways really stands out as a great modern, all-ages comic.

4. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Watchmen is a classic comic. It’s also a critique on comics. While I don’t think it’s necessarily a universal book, I do think that if you think someone would enjoy a comic, they would enjoy this graphic novel. Of course, Moore always creates more than just a comic and Gibbons’ art is really outstanding in it. (Keep your eye out for a symmetrical chapter.) The story features superheros and their foes that have been forced to retire and are being killed off. It’s also about NYC and modern world problems. There’s much millennial and economic tension. The perfect gift in our current financial crisis. And don’t forget, there’s a movie coming out next summer.

5. Gotham Central Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker

I love this entire series. I definitely wouldn’t stop at Vol 1, especially since Vol 2 is better. Gotham Central is about the Gotham Police Department and their struggles. It certainly takes place in the Batman part of the DC Universe, but if you’ve seen any of the Batman movies, particularly the last two, you’ll be okay. In fact, these comics were a heavy influence in The Dark Knight. This storyline focuses on good and bad cops and an investigation of Mr. Freeze. Gotham Central was the first comic to actually convince me that Mr. Freeze was a legitimate and scary villain.

6. Queen & Country Vol. 1: Operation Broken Ground by Greg Rucka and Steve Rolston

Yes, another Rucka book. However, this one’s independent. The story follows a British Special Operations office Tara Chace and her colleagues. It opens immediately with action as Tara is sent to assassinate a terrorist. This causes problems as Tara’s kill isn’t clean. Our world is very global and espionage isn’t that simple. Levels above the last Tom Clancy thriller in writing, but will appeal to the same audience.

7. White Tiger: A Hero’s Compulsion by Tamora Pierce, Timothy Liebe, and Phil Briones

Set in the Marvel universe, White Tiger features FBI agent Angela del Toro turned superhero. She takes up the White Tiger mantel after her uncle’s death. This story mostly features guest appearances from the B-listers in Daredevil and Heroes for Hire. The great thing about this story as it shows a superhero who is gaining her wings. But at the same time, she’s a grown woman and in the FBI, so she’s already used to detective work and some fighting. An interesting read, especially for anyone who’s interested in superheros who aren’t rich (like Iron Man) or immature (like Spider-Man).

8. Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin, and Alvaro Lopez

I love this title. A wonderful, heartfelt look at the origins of Batgirl in an all-ages comic. Barbara Gordon is young and spunky. She’s smart, but definitely not going to heed to her father’s warnings that she should stay in and be safe. Even if he is the police commissioner. I love the little elements, like Babs writing a fan/mentor-seeking letter to the Black Canary and her not wanting Batman to be her guide. It’s a sweet coming-of-age story with fun, colorful art.

9. She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female by Dan Slott and Juan Bobillo

Any story that starts with the hero being fired and kicked out of her home (the Avengers’ mansion) is hopefully going to be a good tale. She-Hulk (Jen Walters) is something of a partier. She’s big and green and loves life. However, her employer and her roommates (particularly Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler) are not amused. Even playboy Tony Stark (Iron Man) conspires with Steve Rogers (Captain America) to have Jen move out. Luckily for her, she immediately gets a new job offer. With a catch: she has to be Jen, not She-Hulk, while she’s at work. Her first appearance as Jen with her new employer has her puking on his shoes. (Her drinking killed Jen’s metabolism, while not touching She-Hulk’s.) Slott sets up a law firm, specializing in superhuman law, full of interesting characters, creating a different sort of world for Jen than she’s used to.

10. The Authority Vol. 1: Relentless by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch

The Authority are a different sort of superhero group. They’re saving the world, yet they’re doing it on their terms. They live on a ship, known as the Carrier, that they don’t quite understand how it works in a place known as the Bleed. However, every time there’s a crisis on Earth, they can just transport through a “Door” to where they’re needed. They all have flaws (arrogance, jealousy, drug addiction) and they can all win a fight without a sweat. They don’t hesitate to kill the bad guy or gal. Jenny Sparks, their leader, is the spirit of the century and she guides their mission to do exactly what they think is correct. It’s awesome.