BATGIRL / HAL JORDAN & THE GLC / TITANS / PREDATOR vs. JUDGE DREDD vs. ALIENS [Reviews]: Backlash.
As a preemptive strike against internet flaming, I must admit that I am a bit of a neophyte when it comes reviewing or analyzing DC Comics. However, with the advent of the DC Rebirth, I believe my somewhat unsullied perspective on this can be quite relevant for new readers or old fans that have become estranged over the years. Thankfully, a younger version of myself used to watch Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, and I grew up watching Batman movies with my two, older identical twin brothers. I’ve also been exposed to the comics throughout my youth. Hardcore comic book aficionados feel the same way about their comic book tv/movie adaptations as booklovers do: the book is always better. I fall somewhere in the middle. Unless it’s Jane Austen, then the book is always better. Most of the time, I watch the movie/show first and then I get interested source material.
Batgirl #1: “Beyond Burnside” was written by Eisner Award Recipient Hope Larson and was illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque (co-creator of American Vampire). Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl is typically smart, plucky, and resourceful like all of the Batgirl iterations I’ve seen. In this episode, Babs has left behind Burnside and traveled to Okinawa, Japan. During her vacation adventure, she plans to interview the mysterious Chiyo Yamashiro, aka Fruit Bat, and inadvertently runs into a childhood friend, Kai. Fruit Bat and Batgirl protect Kai from a Sailor Moon Clown assassin who believes Kai has a formula she desperately wants. Fruit Bat blocks the attack and tells Batgirl she must find a teacher if she wants to solve the mystery. This leads Batgirl and Kai to an MMA event in Singapore.
Both Larson and Albuquerque have managed to present a youthful, bright, and intriguing Batgirl. Larson also created an Asian American character that has the potential to be well-rounded and fully developed. Kai is very mid-western. He is an American boy on a journey to learn more about himself and his Chinese grandparents. For years, Asian characters have been exoticized. They are magical villains and vamps, servants and silent sidekicks. Larson has avoided these tropes, and has given us a chapter that is young and new but still evokes a sense of nostalgia. 4/5 Soapboxes.
The Superkick returns. Too, returns Hal Jordan to the forefront of battle with the even more prominent Sinestro Corps. Following an impressive solo outting from Cullen Bunn, the formerly crippled Sinestro goes from psuedo-hero to villain once more. More rejuvenated back to his mighty ways, Hal will need the power of the Green Lantern Corps to take down his now gray-haired, interplanetary arch-rival.
As a longtime GL fan, Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar) doubled up with a story, both far more interesting than his previous “Evil Hal” run and, two, than the Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz stuff going on in the other book. Sorry, nerd churchgoers; nothing beats the greatest Green Lantern known to man, and the bright-eyed resurgence of the GL Corps. With some admirable, and fairly energetic linework from Rafa Sandoval, fans will witness the return of another favorite, John Stewart, too. 4/5 Bibles.
Titans #1 features Kid Flash (aka Wally West) as the linchpin character. However, he’s no longer a “Kid”, but a “Flash”, married, and now returned to the DC Universe continuity. And no one remembers him, not his wife nor his teammates; now, just Titans, no more Teens.
Dick Grayson is now Nightwing (not Robin), Raven is nowhere to be found but her spooky replacement is Lilith (aka Omen), who psychically searches West/Flash’s memories to find out just what the heck is going on. What she awakens is a new mindbending threat to reality. If you don’t read Rebirth #1 or Flash Rebirth #1, Titans #1 will be confusing; but the interesting character development warrants the research and a second read thanks to prolific Marvel and now DC writer, Dan Abnett (Iron Man/Thor series). Penciler Brett Booth (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) illustrates an older school style of superhero, super defined anatomy on every character and voluptuous female proportions, but the beautiful colors by Andrew Dalhouse (New 52 Teen Titans and The Flash) render the images as modern and tone down the “cartoonish” aspect. Good read but the backstory helps! 3.5/5 Bibles.
This was supposed to be easy. I like Judge Dredd comics, and Chew, and haven’t read a Predator VS Aliens comic since Chris Claremont’s Deadliest of the Species; so I was quite excited to quickly give it a read, hammer out a hundred-or so words, and then go out for the night. So, I organized my workspace, did some exercise, took some double-dropped white fuzz LSD, and went to have a shower. At 7:26pm I came to realize that it wasn’t just the steam in the bathroom; I really couldn’t see. The stomach butterflies and anxious welling sensation and irrepressible giggling urges passed me by and we’d skipped straight to a blizzard of 8K HD fractals and static that I now had to accept as the new normal for the next 8-10 hours. Shaving was difficult, but I everything felt better after I started applying Nivea Men Hand/Body/Face Creme to most of my body. (4.5/5).
Covered in moisturizer and pretty much legally blind, it was time to proceed. Opening up the Dark Horse Predator VS Judge Dredd VS Aliens comic, I was immediately struck by the grit and cinematic fluidity to the panels of industry newcomer Chris Mooneyham (Five Ghosts) as he depicts the Predator stalking familiar terrain, set upon by mutant anthropomorphic animal-people, and I spent the next 25-minutes laughing at my feet. (5/5). 8:34pm – borrowed a Tooheys Old Dark Ale (4/5) from my housemate, enjoying the acrid bitterness against the choc-coffee hints of the malt, returned to my room to find that at some point in the last hour I’d opened wiki tabs on every Star Trek: Voyager episode to feature the Borg, and one was playing on Netflix (5/5).
I don’t think I’m going out this night. But still, a feeling of cramped stir-craziness and cabin fever was setting in, rising in intensity every time I saw inside the Borg cube or Seven of Nine’s alcove. I tried operating my phone but couldn’t open the lock screen; my fingers never quite connecting with the swelling wobbling jellied mass of the screen in the way I intended, and I wonder why my phone screen isn’t glass like it should be (1/5). Several hours later and waves of giddiness still roll over me while the vision thing is just as frenetically distorted as ever. I find myself reading interviews where Jeri Ryan says her time on the show as Seven of Nine were hellish due to the way a certain co-star (pretty obviously Captain Janeway) would treat her on set, and you know what–it might be the LSD–but I can totally get that vibe from watching it now, and find myself feeling sad and dejected for her all these years later. The eery glow surrounding their faces seems to be a representation of their inner-most motivations, and the scrawling lines of static across their faces mirror the tense dramatic scenes; giving Janeway and Chakotay a particularly menacing hue. Also, the more I see the Borg the more I relate to them and their objectives. Did the guy who created the concept for them specify that they had to look like Cybermen crossed with Cenobites, or did that just happen naturally because everything in the 90’s looked like fetish wear?
Feeling like it was definitely time to get back to the comic review, I smoked a cigarette or two and a bowl to trigger the synapses and get the creative juices flowing, and proceeded to press delicately on and around my closed eyes for a while because I had only just noticed that applying light pressure triggers explosions of pure color filled up by deep black drops bordered by ever-expanding fractal coastlines welling up from a point just below my line of sight and repeating. (4/5).
10:57pm. Determine that the problem wasn’t my phone, the problem was with my fingers; when playing guitar is next to impossible. (0.5/5). At 11pm, a sudden burst of inspiration – build a bookcase! You have a DIY kit you bought and a screwdriver. The assembly is simple enough, you recall, having constructed one of these already. Whilst pulling the box out from under the bed, the sleeping cat is awoken, and wants some attention (2.5/5). 11:07, realize with horror that you’ve taken all of the pieces of a DIY bookcase out of the box and strewn them all over the floor, thus forcing you to now actually build a bookcase in your present state and at this time of night. Curse whoever did this to you. You still haven’t reviewed the comic. The construction is surprisingly easy and goes off without a hitch. The boards and pieces are all precisely pre-cut and pre-drilled, and fits together like a child’s puzzle. It neither topples over nor collapses. It even supports books. (5/5).
Admiring my handiwork sometime after midnight with a glass of Bundaberg MDC Small Batch rum (5/5), there is a definite shift in mood after Janeway mounts a rescue of Seven of Nine from the lair of the Borg Queen. It’s heartening to see that the horrific demon distortions on their faces are abating, just replaced with garish impressionist touches; and I relax knowing that they must in deed be getting along better in person at this point. In this moment I realize that all time is right now, and that time exists as an amorphous lattice of superposited dimensions, of a shape that only the weirdest of mathematicians can conceptualize, and thus it doesn’t really matter that I haven’t written the review of PvJDvA yet. I got really stoned, and explained to the cat what a cat was, in case he was unsure in himself.
The hours roll past at this point amidst a cloud of cigarette smoke and Netflix. The cat didn’t seem to understand what I was telling him earlier, so now I just tell him that “We are Borg”. He seems satisfied. So, to conclude: an excellent first issue, with John Layman setting up the (kinda) disparate trifecta of licensed properties on a collision course that should be exciting, with the genetic-tinkerer perps that Dredd and Psi-Judge Anderson are pursuing out in the cursed earth areas serving as the thread between them all… It has the makings of a fun series, and I personally can’t wait to find out how Captain Janeway finally defeats the Borg Queen. 4/5 Wild Nights.