HARLEY QUINN / STAR WARS / POWER MAN & IRON FIST / AVENGERS STANDOFF / SNOWFALL [Reviews]: Harley Organa.
What happens when a guy who’s never read a Harley Quinn comic is assigned to review the newest one? He makes it through a page or two and then hands it to his wife, who has read everything Amanda Connor (Power Girl) and Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex) have created — fine with me, since I had already read it.
A current resident of New York (with pit stops in Los Angeles and London, among other locations), Harley returns to her old stomping grounds, Gotham City, to do a solid for a friend. Of course, being Ms. Quinn, this isn’t as simple as helping someone get into SDCC or picking up pizza for dinner; instead, it involves busting the dude out of Arhkam (Yes, that Arkham, home of her psychotic ex. Shhh!). With appearances by Poison Ivy and Batman, the core of the story focuses on Harley, Joker, and their mad love.
The wifey/hubby team of Connor and Palmiotti do an outstanding job of showing how twisted the relationship is between the two (err–not them, but you know who and you know WHO!), as well as how hard Harley has worked to separate herself from Gotham and her life with the Joker. It goes without saying that the serious tone that falls over the comic in its middle section is lifted at the end, where Poison Ivy and Harley encounter a — surprise! — pissed-off Batman who would like his stolen boat back. Because what would a Harley comic be without a semi-snarky ending? 4.5/5 Bibles.
And I’m not done…
Ah, Star Wars – the classic story of a girl, her slightly annoying brother, and her wise-cracking love interest. The all-new story “Rebel Jail” kicks off with one third of the ragtag bunch teaming up with smuggler Sana Starros to take one of Lord Vader’s minions to a top secret sun prison. SW #16 kicks off the story well, introducing the characters and their connections to each other, and creating a girls-only adventure while the guys are getting into trouble (and with Han Solo, who didn’t see that coming?)
Written by Jason Aaron (Mighty Thor), with art by Leinil Yu (Old Man Logan), Gerry Alanguilin, and Sunny Cho, issue 16 has the same look and feel of previous Star Wars comics, throwing in an extra helping of girl power that would seem more fitting to a Leia comic. Story-wise, the issue does a good job of setting up the action that will follow, as the “unbreakable” prison is broken into, and readers are left wondering how the characters will be reunited and deal with their newest mission.
Overall, it’s a solid beginning to a new chapter that ends on a high note and leaves the reader to wonder what happens next. 3/5 Blasters.
Salutations and such! This is The Belser, reporting for duty on the comic review tip. This month, I’ve been asked to look at an Avengers one-shot titled Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill. Marvel’s latest crossover starts with The Winter Soldier himself, Bucky Barnes, investigating a recent explosion — chiefly the result of an experiment kickstarted by Maria Hill called Kobik.
Of course, this involves reengineering parts of Cosmic Cube–for all you GOTG/MCU fans out there. After watching a reenactment of the incident, Bucky appears to be on the brink of being captured. The story then shifts to an amnesiac young man being rescued from the woods by a female sheriff. She leads to the nearest town: Pleasant Hills. For all intents and purposes, this is the idyllic American town: picket fences, birds chirping, happy white folks, etc. After a series of repeated escapes, the young man soon discovers that NOTHING in the town is what appears to be.
While I’m not terribly familiar with Nick Spencer‘s work (Astonishing Ant-Man, Captain America: Sam Wilson), his dialogue does have an undercurrent of deception from most of the townsfolk. Other than that, the script is merely OK. The artwork by penciller Mark Bagley (Amazing Spider-Man, Thunderbolts) and inker Scott Hanna (Detective Comics) is adequate but not overwhelming. My favorite panel is the “big reveal” of the last panel (though I won’t spoil it). Overall, this Standoff one-and-done is a passable start to Marvel’s next mini. I just hope it’ll have more subtantial context as it pushes along. 2.5/5 Bibles.
Never in my life have I had to force myself through a comic before. Seriously, I had to put Snowfall #1 down every few pages just to prepare myself for the next dull, wordy, repetitive frame. Joe Harris (X-Files) wrote some pretty flat, one-dimensional characters, and managed to make a statement about climate change in every frame of this book. Not even the art of Martin Morazzo (Great Pacific), nor the coloring of Kelly Fitzpatrick (The Black Hood) could save this book. The images were just as flat and non-captivating as the story, which is this: Mankind ruined the climate, tried to fix the climate, ruined it more, now it never snows naturally. Also, there is this guy named the White Wizard — who I think was supposed to be a “rebellious hero” in the past — but is blamed for causing “unplanned” weather changes even though he’s vanished. Overall, I felt Snowfall to be tedious and utterly boring. I won’t be following up on this unless I hear about a drastic change. 1/5 Shattered Snowglobes.
First off the bat, this is actually Power Man and Iron Fist, not Heroes for Hire (yet). The Power Man, as in actual Luke Cage, alongside his BFF, Danny Rand. This recent revival assumes readers are already fans, or at least familiar with the duo’s backstories as Marvel superheroes born of the 70’s Blaxsploitation era. Quick origins: Cage is a former gangbanger imprisoned falsely and subject to experimentation that, of course, leads to his acquiring superhuman strength and unbreakable skin; Rand, on the other hand, a rich orphan (funny, huh?) who transforms into a mystical martial arts force.
The bros are on a joint mission with different motives. Luke wants to help an old friend, while Danny wants to revive their Heroes for Hire practice. Action and double crosses pop off and campy seventies villains abound; even Jessica Jones herself makes an appearance (well, of course she would; cha-ching!). Marvel has assembled a great crew of talent for this one, with African American cinema scholar and Blaxsploitation authority David Walker (Cyborg, The Adventures of Darius Logan) leading the way with the script.
While the overall execution needs a little work, Sanford (Marvel Adventures) Green‘s penciling is stellar despite some facial expressions that appear at odds with the “bods”; thankfully, Lee (Batman Adventures, Fables, Deadly Class) Loughridge‘s color work evokes the grit and bygone era from which our heroes hail. The villains seem smarter than the protagonists who seem naively unseasoned, but are great at kicking ass. I’d recommend this as a hip, nostalgic read for longtime fans; although those seeking a fix until the Netflix Luke Cage series debuts this November (and Iron Fist hopefully not too long thereafter) may need a little more backstory and beefed-up physical action for entire satisfaction. but needs to incorporate more backstory for new readers and beef up the physical action, still with the great cast of characters in the expanded universe and the hip nostalgic factor, Powerman and Iron Fist #1 shows some real potential. 3.5/5 Stars