On @DCComics Firing Topselling #BatGirl writer Gail Simone: Gender & Geek culture Again

Gail Simone

Gail Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received word of the depressing news last night that Gail Simone had been fired as chief writer for the DC Comics New 52 Batgirl. Batgirl was a part of my stack (when I could afford it) and I plan on just purchasing Simone’s run (two story arcs) when they are published as graphic novels; the first is already available: Batgirl New 52 Volume 1: The Darkest Reflection.  I don’t know what Simone’s plans are next, but here is her own words on what took place.

And now for my take. This decision does not make any sense to me in the least. I took the news hard, and was deeply saddened that the one comic book series I was interested in was losing its writer. According to The Comics Chronicle, Batgirl was ranked 17th overall in terms of individual titles, above Iron Man, Dead Pool, Catwoman, Walking Dead, and Nightwing: see the rest of the numbers here Comic Chron November 2012. This was not a money decision by any stretch. This choice was based on power, and dare I say it as an individual speculating, male power. The tale of Barbara Gordon [in Simone’s rendering] (which I plan to blog on in the far future, perhaps sometime next year) was the story of a superhero overcoming Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Perhaps the idea that a hero could have vulnerabilities and have her suffering from the past actually live in her memory was a bit too much for the heads at DC. DC Comics is not looking too good right now, just last week with Karen Berger of Vertigo Comics leaving DC Entertainment (Vertigo is DC comics more oriented towards a mature audience).

It seems to me that in the world of science fiction and fantasy, that although we have writers and artists that invite us to stretch our imagination and challenge what we believe is possible, for some strange reason, our imaginations seem to be determined by and therefore limited by, our gender and racial biases. I know I have written this time and again, but it needs to keep being restated, people do not share the same idea of what is “realistic”/realism versus fantasy, because there is no universal human experience. Yes, we are all human, that is universally true, but what it means to be human, that is up for debate, and falls into the realm of religion, philosophy, and politics. Right now, given the trend downward, DC Comics’ vision of what humanity looks like is exclusive of strong women resisting objectification.

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Have #YoungJustice & #GLTAS Been Cancelled?: Some Red Lantern Blerd Outrage #DCNation

The power of the crimson red

Can lead your soul away from dread

And heal the deepest wounds of hate

Let no one else decide your fate

 

I just have to let out my rage right now. First of all, I had no idea that Greg Weisman, the creator of Gargoyles was also the producer for Young Justice.  Even though I still need to watch his The Spectacular Spiderman, for all intents and purposes, Weisman’s work in science fiction and fantasy had excellent writing and diverse casts. Young Justice, being lead by a black guy for the first season? #WINNING. #DCNation has a huge following on Saturday mornings, and now The Cartoon Network, as it did with Adult Swim‘s The Boondocks as well as the ThunderCats reboot, is about to make a lot of fans angry once more.

Instead of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, DVRs recorded the How to Train Your Dragon cartoon, all because Cartoon Network wants to have a month long birthday celebration. Sounds like a spoiled kid if you ask me!

This came without warning, and I was really looking forward to procrastinating, breakfast, and DC Nation before I have to go to work. Now, I am considering joining a letter writing campaign to bring these two shows back. I just need to know where to start.

For more:

Has DC Nation Been replaced? at Nick And More

DC Nation Pulled From Schedule? at The Outhousers

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Black Lightening is getting a reboot, While Marvel is Rebooting as well

You are probably wondering why I changed my AVI to another avatar with Black Lightening, only this time side by side with some blue genie like dude. Well, yesterday on Independence Day, DC Comics announced that that Black Lightening and Blue Devil are getting paired up for what looks to be like an odd-couple buddy cop super-hero experiment of 5 issues.

I am excited, so this means in October my pile will probably increase by one. I am hoping for a better story than BatWing; I just have a problem with white superheroes being teleported to Africa, and then given no personality. Being an observant of pop culture, I know the odds are not in the favor of people of color, and that’s why I’ll keep blogging on it. Maybe buddying up with some strange mythical creature is the way to go, to market to a broader audience. I am more hopeful about the return of BL than BW.

Anyways, DC, good going, and enjoy the free marketing from me via my avatars:

Oh did you read about that Marvel is rebooting its Universe like DC did with the New 52? Imitation is a form of flattery, they say.

Marvel NOW reboot: From Pop Watch

h00die_R (Rod)

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Savage Nerdery: Week 3 of DC’s new 52: Simulblog Reviews

The following is a simulblog. You can read about this week’s new DC Genesis from Josh Toulouse’s Fat-Train here, and from Justin Tiemeyer’s Caveman-Go here. If you chose, you can also read what Arthur the Lesser has chimed in with here. Here are the links to Week ZeroWeek One, and Week Two, with links to the others as well.

This is week 3 of the new DCU relaunch,  I have to admit to a sense of unease coming into this week after last week’s so-so showing, but I was pleasantly surprised. Only 12 books this week (because Justice League will find its permanent slot here during the third week of the month after the initial reboot). May the God of comic books cause the road to the shop rise up to meet you. May he put plenty of gas in your tank, and plenty of friends to share books with.

*********Spoilers to follow: Ye have been warned.************

 

First, the books that I apparently disagree with others about:

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1

All of the bad things that people are saying about this book are correct. It completely objectifies Starfire, multiple times. She is sexually independent to the point of being a bit of a slave to her sexual freedom, if you know what I mean.  However, there are things I really like about this book.

First, there is a nod to Teen Titans continuity, and a mysterious nod, to boot. At one point, Red Arrow asks Starfire about her prior relationship with Nightwing, she acts as if she has never heard of him, nor any of her previous Titan teammates. Some call this rediculous, I am calling it now, that she does remember, but for some reason is avoiding it. Plot device, not memory hole. Still, in the list of people that Roy asks her to remember (none of which she admits to), Wally West is not in the list. Hmmm…. Is Wally (Kid Flash/Flash) West going to make it into the new universe at all? Also, Roy asks her about Dustin. Who the hell is Dustin? A new mystery to stack onto the new 52. Can’t wait to find out.

Second, there are some really funny moments to this book. I enjoyed the banter between Red Hood and Red Arrow quite a bit. At one point, Red Hood confesses to rescuing Red Arrow because, “If anything happened to you, then I would officially be the worst ex-sidekick.” Then a mental note pops up for Red Hood, “Too far?” Roy’s mental note pops up and says, “Too far.” That was almost worth the $3 for me.

Third, this is another example of how DC is diversifying their characters. There has never before been a book where all of the members are gingers. Yep! All three characters in this book are carrot-tops. It might fool you, because Jason dyes his hair black, but if you know your stuff, you know that Jason Todd is, in fact, a ginger, just like Roy and Starfire.

Verdict: To see the all-ginger team at it once again, I will give it another month.

 

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1: DEADMAN

This was a great book. Of course, there was a lot of exposition and not too much action, but the questions that the book was asking were all the right ones for me. This was a good introduction to the character of Deadman for those who have never read about him, and the pacing and overall story were really tight.

There was no mention of two things though that made me scratch my head. First, no mention of his resurrection in Brightest day. Granted, this is a reboot, and so it probably wouldn’t be appropriate, but since his relationship with Dove is mentioned in Hawk and Dove, and since they got together because of Brightest Day, I want a few answers. But I can wait.

The book centers on a guy who is dead, but can hop back and forth into people’s bodies, a la Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap. He makes their lives better and then hops out. But recently, the people he is being sent to don’t seem to get better. The last page ensured I will be back for next issue.

Since this is an anthology book, Deadman won’t stick around after a few issues. Which is great. I LOVE anthology comics. I can’t wait to see who is next, and for completion’s sake, I will get the whole run of this book.

Verdict: Good. But I would keep buying it anyway.

Now the ones that didn’t do it for me.

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

Imagine Dr. Manhattan. Now erase his junk. How erase that symbol on his head. Then give him more metallic blue skin, and a red symbol on his chest. Then make him a military man instead of a scientist. Viola! Captain Atom.

Plot: My powers are killing me. I can do anything though. I still have to save the world. It looks like I am dying now. Yawn.

The one good thing about this comic was a rare, honest-sounding thought the character has as he appears to be dying at the end. He says, “At least I died doing some good for once.” That made me really care for the guy. But not enough to make me care about reading his comic any longer.

Verdict: Not even remotely considering buying another issue.

CATWOMAN #1

There are going to be a billion more well done reviews about this book than you will find here. This book is simply teenage male-fantasy pandering. Catwoman hardly ever has her whole suit on. Numerous times her breasts are hanging out of her costume, thankfully she is wearing a lacy bra to cover them up, although one wonders why she bothers. The story is blah and blah. The addition of a supporting character who used to be a showgirl, but now looks like a Russian man in drag, was interesting, but ultimately forgettable.

The scene everyone will be talking about though, will be the last few pages. Batman shows up to console her for her apartment blowing up. She jumps his bones (literally). He protests in a half-assed way, and they have sex with costumes on. She admits to not knowing who he is. She admits that this happens between them all the time. She admits that he kinda gets angry when it happens.

I honestly am ok with implied relations between them. And I would even be ok with a more tender moment. But, for me all this did was add a third blind spot to this universes’ Batman. Apparently, whenever Joker, Damien, or Catwoman are involved, Batman simply does not have any sense. Also, writers, if you want to make Catwoman a powerful character in her own right, you should definately not have tied her even more powerfully to Batman in the first issue.

Verdict: Nope. I really don’t need either porn, objectification, or to see yet another appearance of Batman in my comics.

 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1

This book hit the ground running. A bunch of superheroes in the 31st century who all used to be teenager heroes based on 21st century heroes. There are a billion of them. It is like trying to hop in in the middle of an X-men story arc. Reboot? Didn’t seem like it. For Legion fans, you will love it. For everyone else, you will be like, “W T F?”

Look, I am about as nerdy as they come, and I know an awful lot about a lot of different comic nerdiness, but if I wasn’t able to access this new #1 issue, I can’t imagine that it will get better. Pick it up at your own risk.

Verdict: Sorry. I really wanted to like this book. But I couldn’t.

 

From here on out, the books get much better…

BIRDS OF PREY #1

I have enjoyed almost every iteration of Birds of Prey I have ever read. I EVEN enjoyed the short lived TV show that was the WB’s attempt to do something like Smallville in Gotham. I think what always tied the book together for me was Barbara Gordon as Oracle, though. This is a hard reboot for the BOP, and yet even without Babs being the driving force of this iteration, it works. Batgirl does make an appearance, perhaps setting up future crossovers, but it is clear that Black Canary is running this show. And good for her. She deserves it.

The plot is a bit mysterious, but I don’t find myself dying to know what happens. Hopefully, this is a character driven book, and if so, I will continue to read.

Verdict: Another issue would be pleasant enough, but I don’t know if I am in for the long haul. 

 

SUPERGIRL #1

I am not the biggest Supergirl fan, admittedly. I can only take so many derivative heroes before my brain explodes. But although this was an origin story, and a hard-reboot, it was done very well. The art was great, and at very least, this Supergirl did not come across as a giant whiner with tendencies towards working for super-villains (like the last iteration).

The whole issue introduces some really cool Kryptonian tid-bits, and does a bit of world-building in addition to the main plot. The way that I know this reboot is going well is that every time I see Superman show up, I like his costume better and he looks more bad-ass. Of course, that really has nothing to do with Supergirl other than Superman actually does show up in the end and look bad-ass.

I should note that the shop was sold out of this one, and so Josh and I read it digitally. Which was really cool. And at 1$ cheaper, this might be a way of buying more comics than we would otherwise, or glimpsing books we might otherwise pass on.

Verdict: Sure, but probably only digitally.

 

BLUE BEETLE #1

I admit that this book has its flaws. For one, if you didn’t have a Spanish/English dictionary or were on Google Translate, you might have missed half the dialogue. Fortunately for me, 4 years of getting D’s in high school Spanish gave me just enough to go on.

Jaime Reyes, is a great character, with an already existing group of supporting characters. The cool thing here is that although Jaime’s world was already in place before the reboot, no one read the book. Then as Blue Beetle became more popular through Batman: Brave and the Bold and Smallville, Jaime has a bit more staying power, and his book can be relaunched with a lot of very sound story arcs and supporting cast members already built in.

This looks to be fun, if a little Peter-Parkery. Oooh oohh, also an appearance from an ancient Green Lantern! That is fun!
Verdict: Yep. I’ll definately pick it up for an arc.

 

BATMAN #1

This was the Batman book we have all been waiting for. It absolutely sets up the status-quo and deals with the Bat-family and with the setting of Gotham as a character in its own right. I loved the interaction between Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damien, and I want, want, want to see more stuff like that. There was a great team-up with Dick and Batman, but not Nightwing and Batman, as Dick is masquerading as the Joker. The dialogue that followed between Bruce and Dick was right on. The cliffhanger at the end was great as well, and lends weight to the feeling of a shared universe between the new 52 books. In a neat cliffhanger, Dick Grayson is revealed to be the killer at the end of the book! More on this in a second.

Verdict: Yes. Yes. Yes. This is going to be THE bat-book to read.

NIGHTWING #1

Fresh off the heels of being Batman for a while, Dick is back in his own persona of Nightwing. It feels right for me. Although his costume is slightly altered, and he is in Gotham now instead of Bludhaven, this all feels very right to me.

This is a great intro book, as Dick’s roots are explained as well as his legacy when his old circus comes to town. This serves to give us some more supporting characters to play with, as well as setting up some closure, and even some future story-lines.

The really cool thing though, is when a hit is put out on Dick Grayson (not Nightwing), because, the hit man says, Dick Grayson is the best killer in Gotham and he doesn’t even know it. That ties directly in to what we read at the end of Batman, implying that we are going to see these books tie-in very soon, if we already haven’t. Even if the books tell different stories, the idea that we can see one problem solved in different ways by different heroes is a really good way to hook me in further. Great job.

Verdict: In. Glad to have you back, Nightwing.

best for last.

 

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

This book was nearly perfect. The Corps does some heavy lifting as we get ringside for the introduction of a new threat who automatically sets itself up as a big bad by taking out a bunch of lanterns in the first few pages, without them even getting the chance to put up a fight. The book’s Teen rating gets challenged in fact, by the amount of gore.

After this however, the book really does a GREAT job of characterization for its two main characters. John Stewart and Guy Gardner both get star treatments, and we are allowed a rare glimpse of what makes these two characters tick. For Guy, this is rare, but it is done so well, that Guy keeps his douchey mannerisms, while he is allowed to let his love for kids and desire to do real good come out.

John Stewart is almost never done right, in my opinion. He has been used and abused as a plot device character, and the book which really allowed him to stand on his own (Green Lantern: Mosaic) was written out of continuity. Still, this book does a great job at giving us a look at the motivations for John as a Lantern and as a man, as well as setting up the status quo for Guy and John as they leave Earth.

A great intro book that also carries on the past, but suffers not for it.

Verdict: Was never really a question, but…YES!

WONDER WOMAN #1

Can I just say that there is something great about mythology when done right? And this book does it right. The Greek Pantheon is given a facelift for the 21st century, and wisely, most of them are not revealed yet. This allows us to experience them along with Diana. The setup for the first story arc is believable and consistent with what we know about Zeus and the other Gods, but the main villain here SEEMS to be Apollo, and he looks creepy as hell.

Wonder Woman needed this, folks. She needed to be a strong character, with roots in Athens, but living in our world. Thankfully, her time on Paradise Island isn’t mentioned, as when the story goes back there (as it has too many times in the last few years) it always feels like a step backwards. This firmly roots Wonder Woman as a hero in our world, and gives her a real mystery to solve, a real group of supporting characters, a hero that kicks butt, and a reason to care. Oh, and the art was great too.

I put this at the bottom, not because it was my favorite, or beacuse I thought it was the best book this week. I put it here because it has the potential to be the most important. Isn’t it about time that Wonder Woman actually earned her place as one of DC’s big three? Isn’t it time that girls get a hero that they can look up to as well as not be ashamed  of? I think it is. Of course, I think Powergirl is my favorite feminine hero, but I am not above rooting for the competition. As one person said this week, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Verdict: Glad to say that I will be returning to this one.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Savage Nerdery: Week One of DC’s new 52: Simulblog Reviews

The following is a simulblog. You can read about the DC Genesis from Fat-Train here, and from Caveman-Go here. You can read my previous post here, with links to the others as well.

This week saw 13 of the 52 brand-new DC comics hit the shelves. Which ones will make the cut for monthly purchases? Which ones will I give a second chance to? Which ones didn’t measure up at all? Although there were 13 books that came out this week, I was only able to review 10, because you know, this stuff costs money. So, while I may go pick up Swamp Thing #1 later, that issue, along with Men of War #1 and O.M.A.C. #1 did not get reviewed this week.

*********Spoilers to follow: Ye have been warned.************

 

 

Action Comics #1 

I must admit, there is something immensely likeable for me about this new take on Superman. Action #1 is set 6 years in DC’s past, in a world where Superman has only been active for a few months. Everyone but the people on the streets are suspicious of him, and the fact that he is sporting jeans and a t-shirt (and a cape) give him a certain lower-class street cred that helped me believe this version a bit more.

 This Superman is a far cry from the “boyscout” image that has dogged the man-of-steel for the last 50 years. I couldn’t help but sense a bit of Jesus in this Kal-El (apropos if you know that Siegel and Shuster created Supes as a messianic figure). Whereas Jesus did good in a way that frustrated those in power and pointed out their hypocrisy and the blatant falsehood of Pax Romana, Superman pursues evil on the street level and (as evidenced by his holding a corrupt business man over the ledge of a skyscraper) the corporate level. The cops, Lex, and the military all want him to go down, but like Jesus, you can’t keep a good hero down.

Verdict: This is in the buy pile for sure.

 

 Detective Comics #1

While others may not have felt that this Batman is the one they prefer, it seems that this story takes place a bit in the past. It appears that Batman is still at odds to some extent with the political machine in Gotham, the Joker is still a relatively unknown quantity for Bats, Robin is nowhere in sight, and Batman seems just the slightest bit unsure of himself.

I felt like the portrayal of the Joker in this book had a bite to it that Joker hasn’t had in a while, and if I wasn’t going to continue it anyway, the last page shocker showed me exactly what sort of risks that DC is willing to take with its characters, and made sure that I will pick up issue #2.

Verdict: I’ll give this at least one more issue to see where it goes.

 

Hawk and Dove #1

This was the stinker for me. And to be fair, I still enjoyed it somewhat, so that should tell you the quality that DC is putting out this month. I have never been a fan of Hawk and Dove. I have doubly never been a fan of the artist on the book, Rob Liefeld. However, this is Hawk and Dove and Liefeld at their best.

The basic premise is that the gods of war and peace grant power to their respective avatars, who are somehow stronger together than they are apart. This is what strains credulity for me. The avatar of the god of war becomes a superhero? The avatar of the god of peace gets super-strength and flight in order to support the “Hawk” who kills his enemies? War and peace are stronger together? Sorry. There is no amount of cool comicbookery that can salvage that unforgivable misunderstanding of war and peace. Also, I can’t think of a worse combination to represent war and peace than two middle class, sexy, young, white people from suburban America.

Now, I will say that there secrets introduced, particularly about how Dawn “Dove” Granger became Dove after the original Dove died, and how Hank “Hawk” Hall will react to this apparently shocking news. Also there seems to be other “avatars” out there, and I admit I am curious as to which gods these might represent.  There were a few interesting plot developments and some foreshadowing of future reveals, but not enough to keep me on board.

Verdict: Nope. I am glad that Josh will probably pick up #2 so I can read it.

 

Green Arrow #1

This book made me a bit sad, both because of its awesome potential, and also the fact that I can’t give it a fair shake because I am comparing it too much to my ideal version of the character. Ollie (Oliver Queen, Green Arrow) is one of my favorite DC heroes. He has, for many decades now, represented the far political left of the DC universe, often serving as its goatee-clad conscience in a world of superhero privilege. Now, there isn’t more than a small hint of that here.

Ollie has ditched his tradmark goatee in favor of the Green Arrow look from TV’s Smallville series. Not a terrible look, but it will have to grow on me. And to be fair, I very much liked the addition of a few supporting cast members, both of which don’t like how GA does things, from different sides of the fence. Also, the interplay between Queen Industries and Q-Core (his world-class companies in competition with Waynetech, Lexcorp, and Holt Industries) was really believable and cool, in sort of a Iron Man/Stark Industries sort of way.

Not a bad book, but I still have enough fondness for the other versions of Green Arrow that this one will have to work hard to win me over.

Verdict: Definitely in for a few more issues.

 

Batwing #1

I really, really want to like this book. And I think I like it because I want to like it. Nutshell: Batman has gone to Africa, specifically DRC, and found a local crimefighter with similar sensibilities and has equipped him to be the “Batman” of Africa. It makes sense within the DCU. However, Africa is a big place and it is almost too easy for a writer to slip into gross generalizations, stereotypes, and well meaning imperialistic simplifications of life in the 2/3 world. Winnick doesn’t do that. He has done his homework, almost to the detriment of the story.

He gets MADDDD points for addressing some of the most un-talked-about tragedies that have plagued the late 20th-early 21st centuries, such as human trafficking, child soldiers, and utter lawlessness within the backdrop of UN activity, unrestrained nature, and the vacuum created by post-colonialism.

So, while the story of the issue didn’t quite hit me on every level, the care that Winnick is taking with the subject matter and main character is worth me sticking around for a while.

Verdict: In the buy pile on principle.

 

Animal Man #1

“Holy Crap!” doesn’t quite do justice to the way I felt while reading this book. This one keeps you off guard the entire time you read it. At first, we are given a full page text interview with Buddy Baker, Animal Man by a popular magazine. Then, we cut to scenes between Buddy and his family, which intriguingly takes up most of the book, but in a good way. The dynamics between a superhero activist and his family is totally unexplored in comics.

We do get a fairly straightforward hero vs. villain in the middle, but even that doesn’t go how we think, as Animal Man becomes an advocate for the “villain’s” care. Without giving anything away, this is the point in the comic where things get totally freaky. Unexpected power side-effects, bizzare dreams, and an creepy-as-%$@# ending will have you begging for next month to get here quicker so you can find out what happens next. I am officially on board with this hero I have never liked before.

Verdict: HECK YES. More (just like this), please.

 

 

Static Shock #1

I love Static. I want this book to be good. It was. Transported to New York from his home city, Dakota, Static is a 16-year-old superhero who has recently landed a dream job at Star Labs. Ok, I am not “street.” I grew up with no black friends. I don’t read a lot of black authors yet. But in my surely imperialistic, patronizing way, I appreciate that Static is not a “token” character. He isn’t the Tyler-Perry good-black-guy. You know, the one “good” black guy, who except for their skin color, is exactly like a church-going corporate-suburban white guy. Static is black kid from the streets of Dakota. He got in trouble with gangs. He got in trouble. He dealt with real issues. But he was also smart. He was heroic. He did the best he could with what he had. Static is not an either/or caricature of black America. He is what an electromagnetically charged superhero looks like when it doesn’t come from “nice white” places of America.

Also, there is a cool mentor/padawan relationship with an older black hero named Hardware, which I thought was a really nice touch. This looks like it will be good.

Verdict: Safely in the buy pile for now.

 

Stormwatch #1

I am on the fence about this one. It had some great elements to it. It feels like a Torchwood-meets-superheroes sort of thing, and with that comes a lot of x-files, conspiracy stuff. That, I liked. I also liked that this Stormwatch organization seems to stretch really far back in DC’s history. Reeeeeally far back if I understood the images correctly. Also, I liked how while they are the “good” guys, they are not comic book good guys. They are shadowy, government good guys. They interfere, intrude, and intimidate their way into accomplishing what they think is good. I don’t like them. But I think that might make me like this book more.

Martian Manhunter is also in this group, which I think was brilliant, because he finally gets to stretch out his “manhunter” credentials. He “plays” hero with the Justice League, but when he needs to get dirty, he rolls with Stormwatch. The Superman-like and Batman-like characters are the only things I don’t like here, but maybe I am just seeing superficial similarities.

Finally, this book has a scope to it that makes me feel like it is going to be important for the future of the DCU going forward, so for that reason alone, I will give it some more time.

Verdict: in the buy pile for a few issues at least.

 

Justice League International #1

The comparisons between this book and the old JLI (also known as the BWA-HA-HAdays) are inevitable, and I think both fair and helpful. This is clearly the Justice league of second-stringers. But is also the Star Trek of superheroes. There is a headstrong, handsome American leading the team (Booster Gold/Captain Kirk), a tech-saavy Russian (Rocket Red/Chekhov), a hot female who isn’t American (er… Fire, Ice, Godiva, Vixen/Uhura)…. Ok, so this comparison is breaking down. But what I mean is that this is a truly international team. Even the addition of Booster as the team leader is more for PR than actual American Exceptionalism. In fact, Guy Garnder (Green Lantern) calls them out on this and walks out before their first mission starts!

There are a lot of laughs in this book, plus a Batman who is not technically on the team, but follows them around to make sure they can be manipulated by him later, lol. This team, like the nations they symbolize (China, Russia, Britain, USA, Brazil, Norway, and Zambia), they can’t yet get along, and that provides the challenge for them to get past their differences in order to achieve the greater good.

One of my favorite bits is when Rocket Red approached Booster and says that he can’t work with August General in Iron (China). Booster replies that he shouldn’t worry about it, because he has seen the future, and China and Russia are best allies. Rocket Red is satisfied and walks off pondering how that could possibly happen. Whether or not Booster was telling the truth is never discussed, but I like the idea of using possibility, rather than practicality, to change motivations.

Verdict: Buy pile, unless something goes very wrong.

 

Batgirl #1

Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon. She was the first Batgirl. She was shot by the Joker and paralyzed. She made lemonade from lemons and became the most popular and successful disabled comic hero ever, Oracle, universally honored and respected. Now, through a “miracle,” she is back as Batgirl. Fans are understandably mixed. Some will say “Oracle wasn’t broken.” Others rightly note that Babs was the first and most recognizable Batgirl and if anyone deserves a chance in the cowl for the new DCU, its her. And they would be right as well.

Thankfully for all of us, Gail Simone is writing this new series. She had written Oracle more than anyone else in recent memory, and she does everything she can to not minimize the events that happened to her before she regains the use of her legs. Also, this Batgirl is insecure, afraid, and by her own admission, unsure of whether she is in shape enough to be a hero again. That level of characterization and respect for Babs, along with a new status quo, a few quirky supporting characters, and no Batman or Nightwing (former lover) in sight, means that this book can go anywhere. And so far, I am on board with wherever it goes.

Verdict: Buy pile, absolutely.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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