#BATGIRL has arrived in #2014. Complete with #HASHTAGS, a dating #APP, and even a non-licensed version of Snapchat called #SNAPGAB. A quick cross over the tracks to #BURNSIDE, and Babs is the #COOLEST crime-fighter in #DCCOMICS.
Getting tired of that? Yeah me too.
It’s the oldest pitfall in the book. When big corporations try to talk the hip language of teens and young people, it comes out sounding forced and a little awkward. Fortunately, comic scribes Cameron Stewart (Batman Inc.) and Brenden Fletcher (Gotham Academy) write a pretty successful, natural-sounding dialogue for that age group. My only real problem is the villain— but we’ll get to that later.
The first thing that attracted me to this book was (well, the costume redesign, just like everyone else, but in more general terms) the art. Artist Babs Tarr and colorist — and Somerville, MA native (sup, Moody?) — Maris Wicks are a great team for this new take. In a time of mainstream comics where everyone wants to draw like Jim Lee — and in all fairness, who blames them? — it’s great to see indie-looking, stylized art coming from a big company like DC, and on one of their more recognizable titles no less! Wicks’ bright and saturated color palette really makes the images pop, and perfectly compliments Tarr’s simplified, casual art style. This combo welcomes a much wider audience of readers to Gotham, and leaves the “dark and gritty” on the opposite side of the tracks.
As mentioned earlier, the book’s plot relies pretty heavily on technology, which is nothing new for Babs, due to her days as Oracle. (Or did that still happen? Damn you New 52 continuity!) But instead of the old techno-babble that only programmers can really understand, Batgirl is more of a hacker/social media wizard, who is just as plugged into emails, texts, and apps as the book’s target audience. Batgirl # 35 seamlessly incorporates low-transparency text boxes, and a distinct font to clue the reader into when we’re reading aloud, versus when we’re reading Babs’ phone over her shoulder.
My favorite pages of the book were Batgirl’s “superpower” pages, where we take a glimpse into how she sees the world around her to solve problems. The large, cyber-blue panels really put just what a computer-like mind Babs has on display for the reader to really appreciate.
Now, there were some problems. As much as I’d love to have given the premiere issue a perfect score, the villain was one of those “trying too hard to be hip” kinda situations. Everyone else’s dialogue was believable, and smart while still sounding young, but I’m not too sure what Fletcher was going for with Riot Black. I get the premise. Privacy is a number one issue with people who are super plugged into social media; hell, most people still won’t download the Facebook Messenger app because of just that! That aside, Riot Black is some sort of parody of any techno-savvy douchebag who’s living off “being a DJ”, and talks with #hashtags every other #word. On paper, I guess it looks alright, but it quickly pulls me out of the story because I’m trying to figure out how that would actually sound like when spoken aloud. And during the fast paced, action packed climax? It’s just #distracting.
Lastly, the lowest point for me of the entire comic was by far the blurred out middle finger panel. If you’re trying to be cool, you’re already walking a really difficult line. But don’t give us “edgy” then dull the edge like a pair of kindergarten safety scissors. Commit! Either flip us the bird, or leave it out. Censored versions of things remind us when we wanted a CD from Target, but we knew Mom would only buy us the “cleaned up” version with half the song bleeped out. It’s just patronizing.
Otherwise, it’s a fantastic start to a new version of Batgirl, and with Black Canary making an appearance, I can’t wait to see Tarr’s version of the rest of the Bat family. (Hipster Red Hood? A cardigan-wearing Joker? Now that would be funny.) I just hope this new teen-friendly Batgirl mixes well with the gruesome art and story lines in Detective Comics, and Batman’s regular title, otherwise DC’s addiction to crossover events may turn a little #awkward.
After years of storylines starting as far back as Rick Remender’s X-Force, Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #1 is more of a climax than a beginning. For once, long time comic subscribers are being rewarded for their loyalty over the years. The story pretty much involves the X-Men and Avengers teaming up to fight the Red Skull — or Red Onslaught, rather — by the beginning of the mini series. Onslaught is globally remastered as a villain with the abilities of controlling minds on an earth-crushing scale, which adds tremendously to the ethos of old Skull head. Axis also doubles as a true series end to the consistently enjoyable Uncanny Avengers.
Once the newly minted Avengers show up, the true ramifications of current storylines takes hold; Thor is a shirtless Viking with an axe, we now have a much darker, flying Captain America– and missing is the soon-to-be-deceased Wolverine. Tony Stark practically takes over the mantle of, well, Cap, which makes me wonder what the whole point of Captain Falcon was in the first place. Thankfully, everything looks beautiful, much in thanks to the artist of the original Onslaught, Adam Kubert. 4.25/5 Red Skulls Agree.
The first issue of Earth 2: World’s End (written by Daniel H. Wilson, Mike Johnson, and Marguerite Bennett with art by Paulo Siqueira, Eddy Barrows, Jorge Jimenez, and Adrian Syaf) feels like one of those dreams where the world makes complete sense to you in the dream — the place you’re in is your home and those people are your friends; but when you wake up you realize that your dream house was a Home Depot and your friends were gnomes. World’s End is like if DC’s crazy multiverse were real and you found a book from another Earth, published by another DC. The story takes place in an entirely new universe with a new cast of characters, but it’s written with the confidence, and familiarity of a story that has been told for decades. The exposition is personal, usually coming from the point-of-view of an entirely new set of classic superheroes. No one character is over-explaining, or narrating for the sake of narrating. They’re actually telling a story the way that anyone would if it felt like that particular story needed to be told and if this chapter is any indication, World’s End is going to be an exhaustingly painful story. The Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman that we know die within the first few pages — and it gets worse from there. The dour, defeated tone of the book, along with the overload of new information, makes this Earth 2 a tough read, and after awhile it seems like the motivation to keep turning pages is to see what crazy, twisted thing Apokolips can throw at this Earth next. The lack of any solid, familiar ground will put off newcomers, but for the DC hardcore it may just be worth it to see the many alterations done to every storyline, how everything comes together, and how it seems like it’s all going to just eventually fall apart. 3.5/5 Evil Supermen.
Everyone loves superheroes and of course, Marvel and DC have that locked down pretty tight, but it just seems like Image can do no wrong right now and Birthright is just the latest promising new series to hit the shelves.
The story follows a family dealing with the disappearance of their son, Mikey, after he gets lost in the woods only to show up a year later as a grown dragon-slaying He-Man. It seems like an homage to a lot of things, sort of a World of The Lord The Of Game Of type of thing with hints of True Detective and Criminal Minds to boot. Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight, Ghosted, Nailbiter) writes a damn fine script with a legitimate twist and Andrei (Green Lantern: New Guardians) Bressan‘s art matches up quite nicely. However, in a rarely emphasized credit, Par Brosseau (sweet name right?) deserves some real recognition for the lettering in this book. Why? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. And I do recommend that you do just that. 4/5 Bibles.