Comic book lapse

Robin: Violent Tendencies by Chuck Dixon, Chris Batista, Cam Smith and a bunch of talented pencillers, inkers, colourists and letters

It has been a very long time since I’ve read a superhero graphic novel. I miss them actually because I’m a huge nerd, but on the other hand, my year long audio book binge was pretty wonderful too. Apparently comics make bad audio books for some weird reason.

Anyway,  it was a really good ease in. This is a Tim Drake Robin story. I love all the Robins equally (obviously), but Tim Drake gets overlooked generally, because of his quiet awesomeness, so it was nice see him in top form. On top of that, this was a good story.

Robin strikes out on his own investigation after he runs into a mysterious, purple clad vigilante who is robbing criminals and reminds him just a little too much of Stephanie, his dead ex-girlfriend (and the only female Robin who’s brutal murder raised some pretty serious questions about DC and it’s handling of women) aka the Spoiler. Only (spoiler!) Stephanie isn’t dead (because DC comics) and before Tim knows it, he’s got two butt kicking ladies to keep track of.

The story is pretty solid, with Tim struggling to balance his personal life and regular school girlfriend with his crime fighting and his grief and guilt and affection for Steph, and she gets a good back story too. Bruce is hardly featured at all, which is kinda sad, but also helps the story to be a little lighter, more fun and gives Tim the chance to shine. Honestly, this one is an all around win.

Last movie I watched:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Actually, I fell asleep, but that’s not a reflection on the movie, it’s a reflection on my life.

Last TV episode I watched:

Big Bang Theory. Hahahaha. That is all I have to say about that.


A truly eclectic collection of comic books

Avatar The Last Bender by Gene Luen Yang and Faith Erin Hicks

Captain Canuck by Richard Comely, Paul Gardner, Dean Henry, George Freeman and Claude St Audin

Countdown to Final Crisis Paul Dini, Sean Mckeever, Keith Giffen, Jamal Igle, Keith Champagne, Tim Chu, Travis Lanham, Adam Kubert, Edgar Delgado, Elisabeth V Gehrlen and Mike Carlin

Thor God of Thunder bu Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic

Teen Titans Go! by Sholly Fisch, Ben Bates, Wes Abbott, Dan Hipp and Alex Antone

The New 52 Futures End by someone who apparently had their names taken off the cover

Okay, briefly because even though I was fond of most of them, I’m very behind on my blogs and my lunch is over in 20 minutes.

The Avatar was great! It was very empowered, kick ass lady like and I would absolutely read the rest of the series, even the ones that I’d have to pay for. You know, if I actually had time.

Captain Canuck is back. Everyone panic. Honestly, I kind of think the idea is kind of ridiculous because I’d rather my people and I came up with something that was less of a knock off and more of a Canadian thing, but I have to say it was pretty good. I liked it, and I was pretty impressed. It was cool to see places I know being reflecting in comics. Probably not enough to by the rest of them but you know, it was good.

The Countdown, I felt like I missed something. It looks like some of the Titans and some of the Justice League are somewhere, doing something. Yes, that is my report.

The Thor had no words and was basically a big teaser, but I’m not captivated enough to buy the next one. Sorry Thor.

Teen Titans Go! had a pizza monster. I enjoyed the cartoon for sure, and that is the kind of goofy, but this was like really, really goofy. And I laughed a lot.

The New 52 is Batman Beyond! It is Terry! Going back in time to meet the original Justice League and I’m really excited about this one.

Okay, weak blog post, I’ll grant you that. But I read them in a very spread out over several months and they’re a little short to get much said.

That’s why comic books are awesome! Bite sizes of fun!

The last movie I watched:

Probably still the Book Thief. So sad!

Last TV episode I watched:

The last episode of Smash! Season one. Helluva closing number.

No wonder I discarded this

The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer with the XMen: X marks the Mutant by Gail Simone, Jason Lethcoe Hi-fi, Dave Sharpe, Mike Raight, Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley

Well, it’s pretty unshocking why no one  read this particular piece of work. It’s a story about Gus, who is the symbolic ultimate nerd child, and like most symbols, isn’t remotely interesting to anyone ever. The book is split into two different parts, one a hand drawn lame adventures Gus imagines himself in. The other one, the “real” one is mostly Gus having very uninteresting “typical” school aged problems, bragging about how he thinks he’s an X Men only to have the X Men show up and inform him that his baby sister actually is a mutant.

Anyway, there’s not much to say about it other then lame. And also there were a series of these.

People thought other people’s kids would like to read a whole bunch of those. Good god, why? I’ve read better fanfiction then this.

Last movie I watched:

Children of Dune! Again. Possibly that’s a mini series. In which case it was About Time still, so beautiful, so very, very beautiful.

Last TV show I watched:

Charmed. I think. Same one as last time. The learning about not using powers for personal gain one.

A kids graphic novel based on a cartoon – seriously, could I be more awesome?

Young Justice Creature Feature by Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps and Christopher Jones

So, while still recovering from the cancellation of Young Justice (seriously guys?!) I picked up Creature Feature for a huge number of super nerdy reasons but mostly boiling down to it being fantastic.

Maybe I’m not a great person to declare stuff like that since I haven’t really spend that much of my life watching cartoons and arranging them in order of awesomeness, but I’m pretty sure this one would be up high on the list if I had.

Anyway, the book was pretty excellent. One of the stories was the unfortunately named Aqualad taking Miss Martian and Superboy to Atlantis to protect him from awkward conversations with his ex (that happens all the time right?) but the team totally ends up saving the day. Again. The second chunk was what the non-ocean compatible team members were up to, which was hunting down an international organization who wanted to create giant mansnakes ’cause…. all normal villains like… mansnakes (my favourite ’cause all the mentors were around and I love them and their… mentoriness). The last was the whole team on a mission to a jungle island where they become the allies of some nice telepathic apes.

Yup sometimes when I say stuff like that out loud it doesn’t really surprise me that nerdy people aren’t always embraced by the rest of the world.

Anyway, it was a great read that almost filled the gap in my life that the show’s untimely end created and it’s still like nine hundred degrees in here and I’m lacking intelligent, profound things to say.

About a children’s graphic novel.

Based on a TV show.

That was based on a comic.

So yeah, everyone read/watch and bask in the awesomeness of Young Justice while I go find some ice or something.

Last movie I watched: Still Argo. Still impressed. Mostly.

Last TV episode I watched: Two and a Half Men. It was an accident I swear. That show is on ALL THE DAMN TIME and I don’t have great satellite options.

What felt like an awful lot of work for very little Batman

Final Crisis by Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones, Doug Mahnke and 23 other people who are totally awesome and amazingly talented but aren’t going to get their names typed out by me. Sorry team.

So assuming that you (whoever you are – seriously, don’t you have something better to do with your time?) aren’t a huge Batman nerd, Final Crisis contains the “death” of Batman which was actually Bruce getting stuck in the past. That lead to Dick and Damian becoming the Dynamic Duo and it just seemed required that, if I’m going to have a thorough knowledge of all things Batman, I’d have to read this story.

For the record, Batman has like ten pages near the beginning where he was all cool and detective-y, gets kidnapped and then doesn’t show up again until his short, but really epic death scene. I’m not really sure if it’s just my personal bias but I really felt like Batman’s “apparently-he’s-dead” spread was the best part of the whole thing.

When I started thinking about the Justice League I was like “DC… what were you smoking? Mixing a bunch of superheros who get their powers from totally different places on totally different levels hanging out in the Hall of Justice? Who thought that made any sense at all? I know it was the sixties and all but geeeeze.”

Sometimes I think I’m wrong about that. There are some really good Justice League stories. Doom, which is a movie based loosely on the Tower of Babel comic book arch is kind of awesome. All the members of the Justice League are well characterized, unique and kind of limited in their power, which is awesome. The cartoon Justice League that was on TV in the early 2000s also managed to make everyone’s superpowers not a big deal and to keep everyone’s character filled out and interesting. Young Justice was just awesome.

But sometimes the stories just suffer from too many characters and too convoluted plots. To start off, there are like a million superheroes in the Justice League and then think about it, if you’ve got Superman on your side, what kind of situation also requires support from Green Arrow? Or Batman for that matter. What is challenging enough for a god like alien to face down and a totally normal human in a mask who has a fondness for projectiles to manage? And the answer is usually completely ridiculous. Not always, sometimes it does work out really well, but often you just end up with a multipronged attack on earth that’s so complicated the best GSP in the world couldn’t explain how to get from point A to point B.

That’s kind of how I felt about Final Crisis. By the end I’d more or less forgotten who was a hero, who was a villain, who was a hero turned villain (and vice versa), I was pissed off that all the lady heroes had gone to Darkseid and I just wanted Bruce Wayne to reappear and bring some semblance of an understandable plot with him.

I still enjoyed it. Bruce’s not death was spectacular. I’m a fan of Black Canary and Green Arrow and Oracle and they all had stories I understood. As usual, Batman hanging out with super powered aliens and holding his own makes him way more awesome. But by the time we got to the walking tiger wearing a suit I knew I was in way, way over my head.

Last movie I watched: Iron Lady. Meryl Streep is kind of amazing.

Last TV show I watched: Camelot. But that’s all over now.


I’m very sorry, in advance, for the Batman binge I’m about to start

Batgirl Vol 2 Knightfall Descends by Gail Simone, Ardia Syaf, Ed Benes and Vicente Cifuentes

This delightfully fun, very shiny graphic novel has three stories in it all about Barbara Gordon (Batgirl #1 for anyone who’s trying to keep that straight) and the people in her life.

The first one was pretty important, I thought. Considering comic books generally have a cheerful lack of concern about trauma, both physical and emotional it was a refreshing story mostly centered around Barbara’s struggle to become Batgirl again. As far as plot it’s a fairly generic story – weird baddie wearing a mask with sci fi tech and a load of henchmen.

Actually, it’s those henchmen who make the story interesting, because one of them worked for the Joker and was with him the day he shot and paralyzed Barbara. Layer that onto of Barbara’s frustration about her physical abilities and her fears that she’ll never be the Batgirl she once was and you have a really great, emotional story.

My favourite part is Barbara and Dinah (the Black Canary), who Barbara goes to for support. Dinah responds the way any good best friend would – by kicking the crap out of Barbara. Literally and also figuratively. This story also had a truly, spectacularly horrifying look at the childhood of James Jr, Barbara’s serial killer brother. I know that we all want to think that kids are born good, but really, there’s a lot of compelling evidence to suggest that’s not true and even fictional, illustrated portrayals of people who are not unwilling, but unable to feel empathy are usually very chilling.

The second story if Barbara’s Night of Owls, which I’d  read before but I feel like I might have missed the subtly of the story. There are actually three heroines in it. One is a little girl, taken away from her family in Japan during the Second World War to make balloons that carried bombs across the ocean to the west coast of the United States and who is killed in Nagasaki. The second is a young girl who is one of the few victims of those bombs,  but survived, and was taken in  by Haly’s Circus and then recruited by the Court of Owls to be a Talon. And Barbara, of course, who’s fighting desperately to protect her city, but much more so her family.

The last story is Knightfall. After Barbara beats up some would be carjackers at a charity function, the one that ran is caught in a bear trap. Despite the fact that she recently smashed his buddy into a car, Barbara realizes that he’s just a kid who’s going to die if she doesn’t help him, but by doing so she crosses the Knightfall organization, a driven group of vigilantes who are trying to clean up the streets by killing everyone from murders to petty criminals.

This is a lady power story if ever there was one. Knightfall is a strong, albeit crazy, female villain, most of her crew is as well, and Barbara teams up with a gruff detective trying to come to terms with the death of her husband and Batwoman (in one of the most epic team-ups ever!! I mean, if you’re me and you really like the Batladies kicking ass). Anyway, it was the kind of story that had loads of kicking and punching and breaking faces but somehow I can’t see any of the Batboys, not even Nightwing, caring so much about a sixteen year old car thief the way Barbara does. I don’t know exactly what it is about the story that made it feel different, but it was great.

Everything I’ve read by Gail Simone has been incredible awesome. She’s so good at writing the women strong, empowered, fierce but not making them masculine. I think it’s hard to find heroines who haven’t had to sacrifice their femaleness in order to be better in fights.

I still kind of wish Barbara was still Oracle though.

Last movie I watched: Hotel Transylvania! So good!! Best kids movie ever, or at least up there. There’s no bad guy at all! And the story is still awesome.

Last TV episode I watched: Camelot. That was … a show that happened….

Now I finally understand why there are superhero encyclopedias…. apparently you need them

Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle by Gail Simone

Of all the kick-ass lady superheroes I’ve ever spent time getting to know, Barbara Gordon is my favourite. I’m fond of her as Batgirl and I adore her as Oracle. I think she’s interesting and very three dimensional (for a comic obviously) and strong and all in all way cooler than, I don’t know, Wonder Woman. At least she puts pants on.

I knew, kind of vaguely, that she headed up a team of superhero ladies as Oracle and it consisted of Huntress (who seriously has the second dumbest costume I’ve ever seen…she’s only beaten out by Starfire. I feel like Dick sleeps with both of them too… disappointing…clearly he has a thing for purple, basically non existent crime fighting suits… anyway), Black Canary, who is a superhero in her own series I think (or maybe she joins the JLA or something) and Batgirl, or at least Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl. Maybe not Cassandra’s.

Well maybe I’m right but I have a feeling that reality is much more confusing.

That’s right. If anyone managed to understand that whole last paragraph well done! Apparently it’s more complicated than that.

So because of some run in with the Calculator (one of the lamest named villains ever) Barbara has decided it’s too dangerous for Oracle to continue helping like every super hero on the plant so she, with the Birds and Batman, come up with a needlessly complicated plot to fake her death. This includes Lady Blackhawk (time travelling pilot from the second world war), Dove (overly innocent girl who turns into a blue and white spandexed, super strong person), Huntress, Black Canary and some dude called Hawk who works just like Dove only he’s tougher, gruffer and turns red instead of blue, getting drunk and watching strippers and getting kidnapped and tied up in a bus and…. Anyway, ultimately it works out and Oracle “dies”. We’re treated to several nice adventures afterwards in which Oracle still helps out her superheroes, despite going to such extremes to disappear.

I enjoyed the Batboys, all of whom made brief appearances and the kickass, lady power, sisterly bonds that the Birds shared. I’m not sure that it’s ever a good idea to bring an evil mutant Nazi back from the dead though. That might have been a low point.

Anyway, I’d just finished revising my list of the Birds of Prey when I came across another story that has like six different members. Hence my need for an encyclopedia. On the bright side, I work in a library. I could probably find one.

Last movie I watched: Brave

Last TV episode I watched: Firefly