Tag Archives: j.h. williams iii

Review: Cable: The Nemesis Contract

It’s Tuesday which means it’s new comic book day at book stores! This week we’ve got Cable!

Cable: The Nemesis Contract collects Cable (1993) #59-70 and Annual ’99 and X-Man #45-47 by Joe Casey, Karl Bollers, Michael Higgins, Terry Kavanagh, Jose Ladronn, Stephen Platt, Andy Smith, German Garcia, Alitha E. Martinez, Mark Pajarillo, and J.H. Williams III.

Get your copy. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: Micronauts #4

Micronauts #4

Cullen Bunn (w) • Max Dunbar (a) • J.H. Williams III (c)

The MICRONAUTS are caught between a rock and a hard place—or, in this case, a FORCE COMMANDER and a BARON KARZA. With their universe collapsing around them, the MICRONAUTS must survive a deadly civil war while the cataclysmic Entropy Storm keeps expanding. And whatever enters the Entropy Storm is never seen again!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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Preview: Rom #1

Rom #1

Christos Gage & Chris Ryall (w) • David Messina (a) • J.H. Williams III (c)

WE’VE BEEN INVADED AND ONLY A SPACE KNIGHT CAN SAVE US! First there was his epic return in this year’s FCBD #0, and now the ongoing tale of ROM begins in earnest! Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina kick off the wildest new series of the year as Rom’s war with the DIRE WRAITHS hits close to home in “Earthfall, part 1!”

FC • 40 pages • $4.99

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Preview: Micronauts #3

Micronauts #3

Cullen Bunn (w) • David Baldeón (a) • J.H. Williams III (c)

The universe is being torn apart and the MICRONAUTS are caught in the middle! They find themselves prisoners… er, guests… of the enigmatic FORCE COMMANDER, leader of the SPACE GLIDERS, who has a connection to Captain Oziron Rael—one that makes Rael a target for BARON KARZA and his ACROYEARS!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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Review: The Sandman: Overture #1 (Special Edition)

SANDMAN_OVERTURE_SPECIAL_ED_1_8bbb16vidv_I have a confession. I have never read any of Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman. Yup, that’s it, I can breathe easier now, like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. So, going into the much hyped and anticipated The Sandman: Overture, I was a clean slate, not knowing what to expect at all other than brilliance according to everyone out there. And it was very evident to me only a few pages in that me not knowing anything about this series was going to be an issue. So, while reading my review of the first issue, as well as the “special edition” keep that in mind.

Twenty-five years since The Sandman changed the landscape of modern comics, Neil Gaiman’s legendary series is back  with this much hyped mini-series. Gaiman is joined by J.H. Williams III, whose amazing artistic ability is on full display in this first issue, and that’s the highlight for me.

The series is The Sandman’s origin story. From the birth of a galaxy to the moment that Morpheus is captured, the series will feature cameo appearances by fan-favorite characters such as The Corinthian, Merv Pumpkinhead and, of course, the Dream King’s siblings: Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny.

The first issue to me is utterly incoherent as far as story. I barely know who these characters are, what their deal is, or why they’re important and very little is explained in the rather trippy dream-like world Gaiman has whipped up. I didn’t enjoy the first issue as far as story. What I did enjoy was Williams’ gorgeous artwork. Each page I lingered, not due to trying to figure out what was happening, it was because of the art which almost makes it all work it.

Each of the six issues of The Sandman: Overture is being followed the next month by its own Special Edition which will include an interview with a member of the creative team, plus rare artwork and more. This issue starts things off with an interview with Williams.

This issue includes the entire first issue of the new miniseries, including the gatefold in its original form before coloring, giving readers a behind-the-scenes at J.H. Williams’ unique process. Williams’ original coloring will be shown in addition to the black, white and gray tones of the original work. In addition, the lettering will be translucent, allowing the reader to see the exquisite artwork behind the word balloons.

Now getting to see behind the scenes to me is pretty cool, and for folks who like to check out the process of creating such works, that’s something that’s fun to check out. But, I might rather wait until the series, along with the extras, are collected in a trade instead.

I can only review in how I ended my experience, and in this case it wasn’t very good. I can’t recommend the regular series at all for folks who have never read Gaiman’s previous works. The “Special Edition” might be worth it just to get the behind the scenes look. For folks who know Sandman, and have read it before, I have no idea how much you’ll like it.

Story: Neil Gaiman Art: J.H. Williams III
Regular Edition: Story: 6 Art: 9 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass
Special Edition: Story: 6 Art: 9 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copy of the Special Edition

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! Here’s some news for you to spend your Friday with.

Around the Tubes

Robot 6 – Williams bids farewell to “Batwoman” – Everyone is going to wonder what the differences are.

Robot 6 – DC’s Dan DiDio to hear Whoopi Goldberg’s pitch on ‘The View’ – It’ll be interesting to see if this goes better than when they talked Marvel comics.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Animal Man #24

Talking Comics – Animal Man #24

Comic Vine – Batman/Superman #4

Comic Vine – Hawkeye #13

Comic Vine – Indestructible Hulk Special #1

Comic Vine – Justice League of America #8

Comic Vine – Letter 44 #1

Comic Vine – Liberator #4

ICv2 – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel HC

Comic Vine – New Avengers #11

Comic Vine – Nowhere Men #6

Talking Comics – S.H.O.O.T. First #1

Comic Vine – S.H.O.O.T. First #1

Comic Vine – Supergirl #24

Comic Vine – Uncanny X-Men #13

Comic Vine – Wonder Woman #24

Comic Vine – X-O Manowar #18

Holy Matrimony, Batman!

Guest commentary post from Emma Houxbois. Emma is a queer blogger for hire out of Vancouver, BC most recently attached to Girls Read Comics. You can follow her on Twitter @emmahouxbois.

batwomanIn the wake of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman stepping down from writing duties on Batwoman, a common thread among the title’s fanbase is the despondent proclamation that Macklemore didn’t free the gays for this. Only Macklemore himself can answer the question of why he freed us and likewise, only Dan Didio can speak for why he chose to uphold the veto on Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer’s relationship progressing beyond an engagement (which he has done on Facebook of all places) so allow me to speak as a queer woman on why I’m glad Kate Kane won’t be getting married anytime soon.

Since, for better or worse, the situation has become a referendum on letting fictional homosexuals marry, there really does have to be a more considered and nuanced evaluation of whether or not marriage is something that actually needs to be pushed for. The irony of the current debate, and the point at which I begin to depart from what seems to be the fandom consensus, is that feminist literary criticism was born to challenge the reality that women’s stories end in either death or marriage. Decades of informed criticism and measured responses to the portrayal of marriage in popular fiction seem to have somehow sailed out the window as soon as the concept of same sex marriage (which has since oozed itself into the highly suspect terminology “marriage equality”) gained traction within the mainstream. While there certainly is significant merit to awarding same sex couples the same rights as their heterosexual peers and the broken institution of marriage is the most expedient vehicle to accomplish that in reality, the same does not necessarily hold true in fiction. Northstar’s wedding was valuable and important because it extended a long Marvel tradition of event weddings to a character whose publication history has embodied the full scope of the growing pains that the company underwent in becoming comfortable with portraying a gay character. Marvel was creating a new covenant with it’s readership just as much as Jean-Paul was with his boyfriend. By contrast, the wedding between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones could and should have been subjected to far more criticism than it did as it didn’t seem to accomplish much more than further the notion that matrimony is the necessary culmination of a romance and ostensibly the only context in which to raise a child. At the end of the day, the more progressive and meaningful approach to Luke and Jessica’s relationship would have been a recognition that a couple could- as many do in real life- remain unmarried and raise their daughter in a perfectly healthy environment.

Likewise, I just do not see the value in insisting that the only queer superhero with their own solo title get married. It reeks of marriage’s forceful domination of the discourse around LBGT rights and ignores the fundamental reality that the central dispute over whether or not these women should marry in a comic book is controlled on both sides by men because such is the poor state of superhero comics that the only creators with the clout and drive to push the genre’s only queer female protagonist into publication are men. That’s fucked up, and it’s infinitely more fucked up than the actual question of whether or not these two characters should get married. Williams is a phenomenal talent- the best living artist in comics- who has participated in two of the biggest victories for queer female representation in superhero fiction (Promethea and his Batwoman work dating back to Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics run) and Blackman deserves a great deal of respect for stepping up to the plate and lasting a whole two years under the strain of what seems to have been a deeply troubled book from it’s inception, but there is still something truly and fundamentally wrong with the situation, especially when the only female creator to participate on the title to date was only able to contribute a horrifyingly rushed product that only conveyed a quarter of her true talent. This is of course a pattern repeated across most of comics where female lead/majority titles like X-Men, FF, Fearless Defenders, and Wonder Woman have entirely male creative teams with Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Captain Marvel and Gail Simone’s Batgirl essentially being the lone prancing rainbow maned unicorns of major female characters actually being written by women.

I don’t believe that marriage is the compulsory or even necessarily the best culmination of any romance, and that is a position deeply informed by my identity as a queer woman. Furthermore, I don’t see where marriage has any real place in Kate Kane’s narrative. A look back at Maggie Sawyer’s pre-Flashpoint publication history shows that she was one of the earliest lesbian characters in superhero comics, first appearing in Metropolis under Dan Turpin. Maggie was definitely a direct precursor to both Renee Montoya and Kate Kane, who was first brought from Metropolis to Gotham by Ed Brubacker and Greg Rucka to appear alongside Renee Montoya in Gotham Central and then threaded into Kate’s narrative through her stint leading Detective Comics so it’s quite possible that this marriage was part of Rucka’s long game that Williams and Blackman committed themselves to following through in Batwoman, but it still seems directly contradictory to Kate’s story up to this point and Rucka’s wider body of work. Seen from Maggie’s perspective, it follows a very similar trajectory to Northstar barring the facts that until her first encounter with Kate she’d been most recently seen in a stable relationship of her own and that the comic is called Batwoman, not Gotham Central.

As I put forward in my last appearance on the podcast, the strongest common thread that links Greg Rucka’s most significant comic work is the central theme of women navigating the institutions responsible for meting out state sanctioned violence. The responses crafted for Renee Montoya and Kate Kane in the pages of 52 were that the institutions they represented- the police and military respectively- would ultimately reject and destroy them, necessitating that they move outside those institutions to achieve their higher callings (ultimately manifesting in the Question and Batwoman personas). What made Rucka’s Gotham based work so successful was his recognition that institutional failure and identification with The Other are the cornerstones of that fictional space created in the image of Bruce Wayne and his ability to push those sensibilities forward into contemporary concerns. To that end, it seems bizarre and wrongheaded that Kate Kane, who literally gave up a ring because she was unwilling to lie about who she was would turn around and put her faith in another ring whose backing institution has the very same history of marginalizing her identity. She found a way to serve outside of the mainstream, so it only really follows that she would find and embrace a way to love that also sits outside of the mainstream. Finding empowerment and self expression outside the normative is what made Kate a truly different, truly queer character and dictating that she express love and intimacy in the most banal, normative way possible is a fundamental violation of the Kate Kane that gave me the strength to assert my own queer identity. The Kate Kane whose nautical star I had tattooed between my shoulder blades.

Updated: Williams and Blackman Walk Off Batwoman Citing Editorial Interference & Gay Marriage Flap

3175940-batwoman+01I woke up to rather shocking news, but the team of JH Williams III and WH Blackman have walked off DC ComicsBatwoman citing editorial interference. This past year numerous similar stories have come forth of upset creators clashing with editors, but this is the highest profile team yet to quit their book.

Williams explains on his blog:

Dear Batwoman readers -From the moment DC asked us to write Batwoman — a dream project for both of us — we were committed to the unofficial tagline “No Status Quo.” We felt that the series and characters should always be moving forward, to keep changing and evolving. In order to live up to our mantra and ensure that each arc took Batwoman in new directions, we carefully planned plotlines and story beats for at least the first five arcs well before we ever wrote a single issue. We’ve been executing on that plan ever since, making changes whenever we’ve come up with a better idea, but in general remaining consistent to our core vision.

Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.

We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.

We’re both heartbroken over leaving, but we feel strongly that you all deserve stories that push the character and the series forward. We can’t reliably do our best work if our plans are scrapped at the last minute, so we’re stepping aside. We are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression.

We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to work on Batwoman. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of our careers. We’ll always be grateful to everyone who helped us realize 26 issues: Mike Siglain, who brought us onto the project originally; Greg Rucka for inspirationally setting the stage; our amazing artists Amy Reeder, Trevor McCarthy, Pere Perez, Rob Hunter, Walden Wong, Sandu Florea, Richard Friend, Francesco Francavilla, Guy Major, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein; Larry Ganem, for listening in tough times; and editors Mike Marts, Harvey Richards, Rickey Purdin, and Darren Shan.

And most of all, a huge thank you to everyone who read the book. Hearing your voices, your reactions, your enthusiasm every month was such a joy, so humbling, so rewarding. You guys rock! Because so many of you embraced the series, we were able to complete four arcs, and your passion for Batwoman encouraged us to push ourselves to do our best work with each and every issue.

Thank you for loving Batwoman as much as we do.

Goodbye for now,

Haden & J H

Batwoman has been a nationally recognized book for its portrayal of the main protagonist, a gay woman. It’s won two GLAAD Awards for its portrayal of gay characters. Recently two characters of the same-sex got engaged with little promotion or fanfare by DC Comics.

We’ve spoken to numerous former and current DC creators and editors and all paint a picture of a chaotic scene with issues on every side. Senior decisions impacting editors impacting creators, creators whose egos have gotten to them and editors run amok. It’ll take a long time to set this train straight.

Williams has gone to Twitter to further clarify on the gay marriage issue:

I’m guessing there won’t be a third GLAAD Award in the future….

Update: DC has Tweeted a response:

Review: Batwoman #23

So when did this series become about someone other than Batwoman? I mean, I get expanding and fleshing out supporting characters, but for the past two issues, Batwoman has been essentially MIA in her own book. This was a particularly unsuccessful issue of Batwoman, so let’s breakdown why.

This issue made me very angry. Before I started to write this review I looked over all the notes that I had taken as I was actually reading the issue, and my notes are full of the kind of profanity that this site eschews. Almost every single choice made in the creation of this book is wrong. Let’s start with the first scene, in which Kate Kane (aka Batwoman) injects herself with fear toxin to prove how much she loves Maggie. Oh God. Seriously? It’s literally the most melodramatic choice J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman could have made. What kind of person drugs herself to prove her love? Kate Kane certainly wouldn’t; Kate is tough, practical, logical, and intuitive, with a mission starting in eighteen hours. Seriously? What an idiot.

It’s a moment that screams against everything that makes Kate Kane an interesting and relatable character. I expect a move of this over-the-top magnitude to be on some ridiculous soap like General Hospital or Days of our Lives, but not on this comic. You know, I’ve tried very hard to avoid directly comparing individual moments of this run of Batwoman to Rucka’s, but I can’t help myself anymore. Greg Rucka helped to create a nuanced, believable character, and these current writers are butchering her. Plus, it meant that there was essentially no Batwoman in this book. Because she had drugged herself.

So now let’s move on to Bette, aka Hawkfire (a name which still makes me shudder). In her big scene, she managed to persuade a DEO agent to spill the beans on where the DEO is holding Beth Kane (Kate’s sister and former super villain, Alice). After hours of torture by Jacob Kane and the Murder of Crows (ugh), Bette swoops in and cracks the guy in about two minutes. Do I buy that? Nope. And she does so in the most boring way ever: she tells the guy that if the DEO loses a high valued target from the detention area, Director Bones would be out of a job, leaving a power vacuum that this particular DEO agent could fill. Maybe. And of course the agent immediately cracks, with no thought to what might happen if Bette and the Murder of Crows fail to break into (and out of, with a prisoner, no less) a heavily guarded, government sanctioned, military base. Yeah. Furthermore, it made Bette seem so much smarter and resourceful than Jacob Kane, a colonel with a huge amount of experience in the military and intelligence fields. Nope. Not buying it. Maybe I should just stop worrying and learn to love Bette, but I just can’t. There have been two issues almost directly focused on her, and Williams and Blackman have not made her interesting to me.

The final third of this issue is just as annoying. The DEO lets out seemingly all of Batman’s rogue’s gallery under Bane’s leadership, presumably with the plan of drawing out the Bat so that Batwoman can take him down. They just assume that Bane can control the Riddler, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, and some other goons? Please. That seems like a recipe for disaster to me. And then Kate wakes up from her self induced near OD, and is surprised to find that Maggie hasn’t left her. Why would Maggie have left you, Kate? You just injected yourself with toxin. You could have died. By injecting herself with poison, she passive aggressively ensured that Maggie wouldn’t walk out on her. God. Then they have an overly cliché discussion about cheating and love, with poor dialogue during a moment that’s meant to be emotional and dramatic. Let me just print an example. Kate says to Maggie:

“I’m so scared that you’ll never forgive me all those mistakes . . . and for the mistakes that I haven’t even made yet . . . all the ways I might hurt you in the future.”

That’s much too formal and writerly. No one speaks like that.

Normally the art in Batwoman is better than most other books, but this week it seemed rushed. There were pages that seemed to lack a lot of detail, or seemed sketchier than usual, and several times Maggie looked like a man. I am in no way advocating that this book adopt a fourteen year old boy’s image of what a woman should look like, but her face needs to be a little less masculine, please.

The two double splashes in the first third of the book were a strange mix of Trevor McCarthy’s style and Williams’ more painted style, and they didn’t really work. Yes, we got to see what Kate is afraid of, but none of it was new. The symbolism is obvious, and in the end, the double splashes just take up four pages that the plot desperately needed. It’s very much time for this arc to pick up, as the last two issues have seen it mostly in a holding pattern, and frankly it’s getting boring.

I’ll say this again, I absolutely love the character of Kate Kane/Batwoman, but this series is not doing it for me. Something needs to change. It needs a new writer, and it needs J.H. Williams III back on art.

Stray Observations

-Director Bones uses binoculars to watch a building in Gotham blow up. Apparently he, and by extension the DEO, is cool with civilian casualties. Okay.

-Kate’s surprise proposal to Maggie was beautiful, but that was so long ago, and nothing has really happened with that. Sure they’re engaged, but so what? This issue tried to create and clear up some romantic and emotional states, but it just didn’t work.

-That cover though, right? Some months it feels like I just buy this book for the covers.

Story: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman Art: Trevor McCarthy
Story: 4 Art: 7 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Review: Batwoman #22

3175940-batwoman+01I want to love Batwoman so badly. I really do. Every month it’s one of my most anticipated books, and each month I’m left a little disappointed. It’s not bad, of course, and it has some of the most striking designs that DC produces (particularly when J.H. Williams III is on art duty), but the story just never measures up. Maybe I’m just remembering Greg Rucka’s amazing Batwoman storyline during his run on Detective Comics, I don’t know. It’s hard to live up to Rucka.

(SPOILERS) That being said, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman haven’t plotted out a boring story, but it just never seems to live up to its potential. Issue 22 comes right in the middle of an arc that’s supposedly going to set Batman and Batwoman against each other, which is a fight I’m very interested in seeing. Plus, we’ve recently learned that Kate’s sister Beth (aka villain Alice from Rucka’s run) is actually alive and being held by the DEO as a way of blackmailing Kate. All of that seems great. But, what actually happened in this issue?

Nothing, is pretty much the answer to that question. Kate, as Batwoman, and Bette, as Hawkfire (ugh, what a name) track down Bane for some reason, ostensibly to learn how to defeat Batman, as Bane has been the only man to do so. I didn’t even realize that still counted (Thanks, messed up New 52 continuity!). Then of course, we learn that Agent Chase of the DEO wanted to cut some kind of deal with Bane, the details to which we don’t learn. Surprise, right? Bane’s advice to Batwoman was so inane and unhelpful, she should have seen straight through the ruse. But she didn’t. Apparently she’s stupid now.

The final half of the book had to do with introducing a new mercenary team called Murder of Crows, somehow led by Colonel Jacob Kane (Kate’s father), even though he’s active duty military . . . We’ll just skip how ridiculous that is. We have pages of Bette as Hawkfire fighting and besting this group, all of whom are introduced with a caption box dedicated to their strengths and personalities, none of which I remember. We don’t see them do anything. We don’t see them in action. We see them all telling Jacob Kane how great Bette is. Boring. (Also, when did Bette become such a bad ass? Wasn’t she just screwing things up?)

All of what I’ve written above sound scattered and nonsensical, and that’s because it is. Nothing really happens. Scenes are lumped together with no sense of narrative flow, and the issue ends very abruptly, as they frequently do. Also, there’s not nearly enough Kate Kane/Batwoman. Bette is just not interesting to me. Hopefully the storyline picks up next issue.

Whenever J.H. Williams III is on art for this book, it’s undoubtedly the best looking comic DC publishes every month. However, while Williams is off doing Sandman: Overture, art duties have fallen to Trevor McCarthy. And that’s all right. He’s moved away from trying to replicate Williams’ ridiculous sense of design and begun to make the book his own: less detail, more cartoony, with pages that are a little less subtle. I personally like the style. It adds a boldness and aggression to the characters, which is something Williams didn’t frequently bring to the table.

Granted, I had a little trouble following the fight scene with Bane (One panel had Batwoman sneaking up behind Bane, and the next was a close up of Batwoman getting punched in the face. How did we get there?), but most of the action was kinetic and agile. The fight scenes with Bette and the Murder of Crows at the end fared worse, as McCarthy didn’t have the opportunity to actually stage a fight scene. He could only draw single panels unconnected with anything else.

As for the colors, I don’t know. I honestly can’t make up my mind. Guy Major’s choices at the beginning of the issue were great (during the fight with Bane). The snow was crystalline with a hint of light blue, which played against the dark of the forest very nicely. The bright orange and red of Hawkfire’s and Batwoman’s costumes, respectively, added another, deeper dimension. Unfortunately, and again I’m going to harp on the back half of the book, the pseudo-fight scenes with Hawkfire and the Murder of Crows were awash in dark blues, greens, and blacks, making everything sort of run together. Even the bright orange of Hawkfire’s costume became a dull copper. Nothing stood out, and everything seemed very one dimensional.

I love everything about Kate Kane/Batwoman as a character, and the art on this book is some of the best. It’s too bad #22 is such a let down. Here’s hoping next month’s issue will be much better.

Story: JH Williams III and W Haden Blackman Art: Trevor McCarthy

Story: 5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

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