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Review: Harley Quinn #16

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner packed so much girl power into the latest issue of Harley Quinn that it could pass the Bechedel test no problem. Harley Quinn #16 finishes off the alien invader storyline with a bang, well actually something more deadly than a bang. Palmiotti and Conner have our three superheroines serving up some well thought out justice to the shirtless alien who’s been threatening to take over the world for the past few issues. The ladies do this by working together and it is glorious. We also see a bit more of the gentrification vampires in action and it’s scary on a soylent green level, the writers don’t give too much away but they give us just enough of a taste to let us know that it’s not looking too good for NYC homeless population. As an added bonus we get to see more of the future storyline and discover that the desolate city’s number one bat fan is coming after Harley. We got one storyline finished, one in the middle lane, and another that looks exciting as hell on the horizon and I can’t wait to see how this all shakes out.

John Timms and Joseph Michael Lisner (who drops in for a few pages to make some magic in the future story line) serve up some beautiful artwork with such richness and detail that it pulls the readers even further into the amazing story that the writers are telling. There isn’t a line out of place, no cheap trick, just good art that becomes another character in this already rich story.

Overall, I found the story to be emotional, well planned and a great tie-in to the rest of the arc. Many writers would find themselves facing an uphill battle having so many storylines running concurrently in one issue but, ass usual the Palmiotti and Conner team take on this challenge like champs and emerge victorious. There’s bonus points for making Harley and her female squad hella feminist in the process. There’s something truly great about their choice to have other women be the first people that the ladies reach out to when they’re in trouble and there’s  something even greater about the ladies working together to get the job done. I’m also a fan of the small talk and affection that occurs in this issue, there’s some ribbing on Harley from Power Girl but, it’s nothing too harsh and all in good fun. There’s also an acknowledgment that people can change over time and evolve into something new. I loved every panel of this issue and I’m pretty sure that you will too.

Story: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Art: John Timms and Joseph Michael Lisner
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Sideshow Collectibles Has New Art Prints from Marvel and DC

Sideshow Collectibles has launched new art prints featuring the Avengers and Power Girl. Released today, the Avenger’s Trinity Premium Art Print is a 18×24″ hand-numbered, limited edition art print featuring an authorized pencilied artist signature by pinup artist Stanley “Artgerm” Lau. Limited to 500, the print retails for $89.99.

Not to be outdone, Power Girl also gets her own print, also by Lau. The limited edition print is the same size with same signature, but an edition size of 600. It retails for $239.99. Endowed with the powers of Krypton, this strong and sassy superheroine is sure to knock your socks off!

Check out the art below!

Review: Convergence Action Comics #2

cac002If there is one single issue which can be said to encapsulate the problems which have befallen Convergence then this issue could rightfully be said to be it.  Convergence has had many problems, but perhaps key among them have been the ripping off of previous standalone and standout Elseworlds titles as well as not taking the time nor the effort to ensure that these characters are treated correctly.  Though this issue is best read in sequence by following into an issue which came out two weeks ago (another strange out of continuity reading experience) it is also made worse by the reading of Convergence #8 in this same week.

As introduced in the last issue, a team of heroes, something like the pre-Crisis version of Superman and Power Girl are forced to fight against the Red Son version of Superman and Wonder Woman.  This has been a problem elsewhere during Convergence as characters which exist in other universes as analogies or allegories to what they mean as heroes, are thereafter reduced to alternate versions of themselves in slugfests in Convergence.  This issue has the same overall problem as the two heroes venture to the Elseworld where Superman is an agent of the Soviet Union, and where we learn that it is not wise to listen to either Lex Luthor or Joseph Stalin (which has to be one of the strangest lessons ever.)

In the end there are a host of problems with the entire series, and this part of Convergence is worse off for having been associated with it.   In a certain context it is interest to see all of these characters together, but especially when read with other Convergence titles and also when considering the plan for the future releases of DC Comics this summer, then we learn that this short two month interlude has really mostly meant nothing.  It never excelled and only acted as a distraction from the regular titles from DC.  This issue captures that, and it is too bad that it couldn’t have captured something better.

Story: Justin Gray Art: Claude St. Aubin
Story: 5.8 Art: 5.8 Overall: 5.8 Recommendation: Pass

Comic Book Weekly Reviews – 6/15/11 Part 2

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This is the second part of the weekly comic book reviews.  Some decent comics in this bunch as well as some duds.

Graveyard of Empires #1 – What starts off as one hell of a war comic turns into something totally different by the end and now I have no idea what to expect with the second issue. All I can say is wow. This is a comic that just knocks you on your ass in so many ways.

Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.75

Green Hornet #16 – Two vigilantes are duped in taking on the Hornet in this ok issue.  Something was off, in what usually is a fantastic series.  The art, was especially not quite up to par as usual.  Overall, probably the weakest of the series so far.

Story: 7 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.75

Invincible Iron Man #505 – I’ve generally been down on the Fear Itself event, but this tie-in is actually pretty good.  The highlight really is Tony’s reflection on what’s going on in Paris and what it all means.  Through all of the action, there’s a lot of character development going on.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

Kirby: Genesis #1 – Uh, a very interesting way to introduce everyone that probably would play better on the movie or television screen, but is a bit choppy for a comic book.  A lot of set up, with very little substance.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5

Mega Man #2 – The series seems to be progressing quickly as Mega Man has to deal with three different robots and has some reservations about it.  The comic reminds me of the fantastic cartoon series that used to be on.  Hopefully, it doesn’t progress too quickly.

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

Power Girl #25 – The second part of the “Muslim Metahuman” story arc that’s not quite as good as the first part.  There’s a lot of fighting, and a neat and tidy ending.  Generally as a two part story it’s solid, but on it’s own, this issue is pretty lackluster.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.75

Uncanny X-Men #538 – Wow, did I dislike this Breakworld storyline.  It seemed rushed and so many other things, but the art’s decent.

Story: 6.75 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7

X-Factor #221 – What the hell is going on!?  As a single issue, it’s meh, but I’m sure as part of the greater story arc it’d make much more sense.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

X-Men #13 – It’s the third part of the “First to Last” storyline and there’s a lot of retconning going on as well as somethings I didn’t see coming.  Overall, the story is growing on me and I’m looking forward to see where it goes.

Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25

X-Men: Prelude to Schism #3 – A threat bears down on Utopia and Cyclops makes his decision as to whether to stay and fight or run.  The series has gotten better as it’s gone along, but I’m a bit perplexed as to how it’s leading to what it’s leading to and have no idea who or what the threat is.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

Comic Book Weekly Reviews – 5/18/11

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It’s a thick stack of books dominated by “X” comics, events and some comics making their debut.  Before you head to the shop to pick up your new releases, here’s what I think of this week’s batch of comics.

Monthly Comics

Alpha Flight #0.1 – In a reflection of the real world, the first prequel issue of the new Alpha Flight series starts with a Canadian election which is clearly more than it seems.  The issue as a whole is a decent read, and there’s a lot of potential but it doesn’t quite blow me away.  The art is a bit inconsistent and as a whole, if you have read Chaos War, you just have to accept these characters are returned from the dead.  Again, the series has potential, so I’ll be very interested in seeing where it goes from here.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Astonishing X-Men #38 – Two issues in two weeks and I can’t say either was really needed.  This issue decides to veer from last issue’s battle in Japan and instead sends a team into space to deal with the Brood.  The story is blah and there’s some dialogue that’s bizarre (why is Beast rambling about a “secret” team!?) and the art is very inconsistent.  This is one “X” series that’s not needed and definitely not astonishing.

Story: 6.75 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.75

Avengers #13 – Generally I would have really liked how this story was told, but it’s yet another lead up to Fear Itself, which has been told numerous times before.  Instead of dropping the team right into the action and furthering the story, we instead get a retread that adds little other than a different perspective.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7

Avengers Academy #14 – The junior team also feels like a junior comic.  There’s just something that’s missing from what should be a solid series.  Instead we get stories and characters that just don’t quite click, especially after such a promising start.

Story: 6.75 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.75

DMZ #65 – I keep saying this series is some of the best political commentary out there.  This issue is a perfect example why.  What horrors and lies are ignored every day for this nation to continue?  How many of the founding qualities are trampled upon so that we can wake up the next day as a free nation?  In this simple story, all of that is addressed, but not at the same time.  Brian Wood’s work here deserves greater recognition, because through a comic book, he’s asking the questions too few are.

Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 9.5

Fables #105 – Just when the series hits a lull in storytelling (but an interesting concept) an issue like this comes before you and knocks it out of the park.  The majority of the story revolves in a father and son talk.  Simple in concept, damn near perfect in execution.  The series’ quality shines in this issue.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9

Generation Hope #7 – I really think it’s between this series and Astonishing as to which is the worst “X” series running right now.

Story: 6 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.25

Heroes for Hire #7 – Fun, fun, fun, that’s what comics are all about and this series is a perfect example of that.  Spider-Man and Paladin are sort of working together as plot points from the first story arc come back.  The series might focus on B and C list characters, but the comic itself is an A.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

Invincible Iron Man #504 – Fear Itself has been a disappointment so far, but Matt Fraction brings the quality for this tie in.  Iron Man has to deal with the Grey Gargoyle who has grabbed one of the hammers that have crashed down to Earth.  It’s a twisted story, and really enjoyable.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1 – It’s the final part in a three part story that finds Namor, Cyclops, Hope, Steve Rogers and Dr. Nemesis in the Negative Zone.  There’s some awesome parts here and some parts that made me as wtf.  Overall, the story is lacking and if I had noticed it was an annual, I would have skipped it.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Power Girl #24 – I’ve never read an issue of this series before, but when I heard it’d have to deal with a Muslim with meta-powers I felt I needed to check it out.  The story is just amazing with a great voice and perspective.  Are all the issues this good?

Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5

Rocketeer Adventures #1 – I’ve never read a Rocketeer comic before (but have a trade sitting waiting to be read), and I have to say this first issue has a great pulp feeling to it.  The stories are entertaining and have an innocent throwback feel to them.  A great first issue, here’s hoping the rest take flight like this.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

Thunderbolts #157 – The team continues their so-so battle but there’s need for the Thunderbolts team in another location at the same time.  Will the B team get called up?  It’ll be interesting to see how these teams meld or clash is the more likely.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5

Uncanny X-Force #10 – Archangel has fully taken over and a very interesting event forces him to completely lose his shit.  This is a pretty big moment as the team needs to head to the Age of Apocalypse to save their friend.  This series continues to be the best “X” book the market.  Plus as a bonus you get Iron Man 2.0 #3 to read too.

Story: 8.75 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

X-Factor #219 – David continues to play in his little corner of the “X” world and as many answers there are in this issue, there’s also a hell of a lot hinted at.  Overall a decent story, but I’m really intrigued to see what comes next.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

X-Men: Giant Size #1 – Well that was certainly an interesting issue.  It’s the first chapter of First to Last and mutants must deal with their place in the world and decide if their species will continue or fade out.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of the pseudo retcon, but the concept has me hooked.

Story: 8.25 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8

X-Men: Prelude to Schism #2 – Still not quite sure what the big danger is, but Cyclops turns to Magneto for advice as to how to move forward against this unseen threat.  It’s a decent story, but there’s been past stories of Magneto’s time in Germany that was much more effective and moving.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75

X-23 #10 – Laura is hurting and Gambit has decided to call in reinforcements to try to help ground her.  This is the comic we should be getting, a killer attempting to reform.  Something that’d be a great companion for Daken which is the killer who embraces what he is.

Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25

DC’s Power Girl Introduces New Muslim Character. Right Rages In 3….2….1…

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MTV Geek broke news that DC comics Power Girl #24 sees the introduction of a new character Ahmad, who happens to also be a Muslim American.  The character is forced to use his metahuman abilities for the first time on a crashing plane, I imagine that’ll go over swell with conservatives who raise a stink any time a Muslim is depicted in comic books.  Writer Judd Winick is the one who gets the fun honor of being the target of pissed off bloggers this time.  But in his interview with MTV Geek, he actually seems like he’s handling a Muslim with super powers in an interesting way.

Winick is intelligently playing off the plane scenario.  The character hasn’t wanted to use his powers, but in this scenario he needs to in an attempt to save the plane and those on board.  This of course isn’t interpreted in the best ways.

He’s going to try and save everyone, but he knows it’s going to look like he’s taking the airplane down. And he’s hoping that afterwards he can explain, and everyone will see… And of course, Power Girl and Batman guide the plane down instead of him.

So he looks guilty, which is sort of where that’s where our story takes off, based on someone who suddenly looks like a super-powered terrorist; when he’s just a regular citizen who wanted to be left alone. Who didn’t want anything to do with any of this, and has now been imprisoned in a Guantanamo Bay like prison for about six months.

Winick has taken the interesting narrative choice of depicting the story from Ahmad’s perspective and thinks a good story will trump coming off as a preachy soapbox.  But it’s this answer in his interview that makes me think we’re in for another shitstorm.

He’s just a simple man who wanted to be left alone, and live his life. Things happen around him that make that impossible. So is he a villain? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone feels more sick about it than him. As people read this story, I think they’ll see he has reasons for doing what he has to do – or thinks he has reasons for doing what he has to do. He doesn’t feel he’s asking too much.

He’s a man with a lot of ability, who really just wants this one thing. He’s asked for nothing, and he’s been persecuted unjustly… And when that one thing is denied him, then he’s gonna fight.

And I see this getting quoted a lot:

Geek: It does seem like the actual villain here is the American government in the issue. Or is it more complicated?

JW: I think it’s more complicated than that. I think this is a massive, massive misunderstanding. So many people are wrong on so many levels. The bottom line that mistakes were made. I don’t agree that the American government is the bad guy. If you’re a terrorist, yeah, we’re the bad guys. [Laughs] That’s where you’re coming from. But it turns out, this guy is not. He’s just being perceived as one. Those in control are not necessarily going about things the wrong way? They just have their suspicions.

Do I think that some people are being wrongly detained? Yeah, that’s been documented. Lots and lots of men and women have been wrongly detained. Those are the ones we hear about. Are there actual bad guys? Yeah, there are actual terrorists who are being justly detained. In this case, it’s an innocent man.

But it’s clear Winick’s goal is to tell a good story, not a perspective:

This is the era we’re living in right now, since 9/11. Arabs around the world, and Muslims, and Arab-Americans, and Muslim-Americans are people who are under a lot of scrutiny, victims of a lot of racism and prejudice. It makes it topical, it makes it something we want to discuss. Every decade, every era has their stories of people who are persecuted, and right now, there are a lot of American citizens who are taking a lot of crap for being born one way, for being born in another country, and that’s hard.

I mean… I’m not stupid. I’m perfectly aware there’s a war going on, and there are thousands of people who would like nothing better than to kill millions of us. I’m aware of that. And that’s not really the side I’m taking… This is a story about one perspective. The other one gets told a lot. This one just seems more interesting to me.

It’s a good interview where you get a good sense of what’s going on in the story teller’s head.  Head over to MTV Geek and read the full interview.