Book Review – Black Canary Ignite

  • Title: Black Canary
  • Author: Meg Cabot
  • Artists: Cara McGee, Caitlin Quirk, Clayton Cowles
  • Line: DC Zoom
  • Characters: Black Canary (Dinah Lance)
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/25/2020

**Spoiler Alert** Black Canary Ignite is the only graphic novel I’ve read in the DC Comics Zoom line for children and middle schoolers. I actually ordered it from my comics shop by mistake, thinking it was in the DC Ink Young Adult line. For children’s fiction, it’s probably good to great – it’s hard for me to tell. And it’s the only time I’ve seen actual “chapters” in a graphic novel. I just found the book a little simplistic and quite short. But, as I said, it is a children’s book.

Dinah Lance is a typical middle school student, she and her friends Vee and Kat are practicing with their band so they can compete in the Battle of the Bands that’s the end to Careers Week, and Dinah also wants to join the Young Police Academy. Her father is a police detective and her mother owns a florist shop. But strange things keep happening around Dinah – a school trophy case shatters behind her, bleachers collapse near the sports field, etc. The principal seems to have it out for her too – blaming her for everything from the case shattering to her favorite mug breaking. After the second or third incident, the principal calls in Dinah’s parents and tries to convince them that Dinah is a meta with telekinetic powers. Dinah’s parents insist this is nonsense, tell off the principal, and threaten to sue the school if they try to expel Dinah.

But later that night, Dinah’s mother shows her the costume that she put away. She was once a superhero known as the Black Canary, and she had a supersonic voice. She tells Dinah that she inherited that power. Ted Grant, now a coach at Dinah’s school, begins training her in self-defense, and Miss Bonner the school’s voice coach helps her train her voice. But Dinah’s mother insists she not tell anyone about her powers, including her friends. This causes friction.

Someone also seems to be after Dinah and her Mom. A package with an injured bird is left at the house and Dinah nurses it back to health. Later, a hooded and cloaked figure attacks Dinah at the florist shop and sets the place on fire. Finally, Dinah’s mother is kidnapped. Dinah heads to the school to find rescue her Mom – and compete in the Battle of the Bands.

It turns out the principal is Bonfire, an old enemy of Dinah’s Mom, who was seeking revenge. Dinah is able to make up with her friends, and they compete with the band title of Black Canary. So it all works out. Again, this is a good story, but it lacks depth and it’s very short. Still, for young girls getting into comics, it’s probably something they would enjoy. Recommended for younger readers.

Book Review – Naomi Season 1

  • Title: Naomi Season 1
  • Author: Brian Michael Bendis, David f. Walker
  • Artists: Jamal Campbell, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual
  • Line: Wonder Comics
  • Characters: Naomi
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/11/2020

**Spoiler Alert** Naomi is one of four titles in DC Comics’ new young adult Wonder Comics imprint. Naomi is a young girl, who was adopted as a baby. She has good parents who love her, friends, a therapist, and she’s a fan of Superman – the way one might be a fan of a sports star, musician, or actor. One day, her dream comes true as Superman fights Mongul in the heart of her small northwestern town. The fight only lasts 17 seconds, does a lot of damage – and Naomi misses it. Even when she researches what happened online – she can find nothing. In the grand scheme of things, the biggest thing to happen to Oswego in years isn’t even a blip on the national news cycle.

However, this event sends Naomi on a new journey. Superman returns the next day to clean up the mess from the fight – but again Naomi misses it, and again Superman doesn’t stay long. When someone tells Naomi this “isn’t the first time, you know” meaning a super being or something unusual had happened in Oswego before, Naomi starts looking into it. Most people ignore her or claim nothing ever happens in their small town. But the town mechanic tells her the date of the last happening – the date of her adoption. Naomi starts asking questions – who is the mechanic? How does he know the date of her adoption?

In the middle of the night, Naomi decides to get her answers and goes to interview the mechanic. She assumes he is her father, and when she sees him with a photograph of another woman of color, she assumes that is her mother. Dee, the mechanic, denies it, denies everything. But he explains that he was a soldier, and not simply in a foreign army, but in an alien army – he is a member of the elite fighting corps of Thanagar. He and his partner were tasked with surgical strikes, assassinations, spying, et cetera. But the more time they spent undercover on different worlds the more he and his female partner began to question their orders and the war. And they fell in love. After a mission goes sideways, they end up together on Gemworld. But they cannot hide there very long. They find out about a portal – Dee is able to get to the portal and to Earth, but his love and partner doesn’t make it and is presumably either still on Gemworld or she was caught by Thanagarian solders.

Reeling from this information, Dee and Naomi are interrupted by her mother – her extremely angry mother. She takes Naomi home, they pick up her father, and head to the hills and a cave there. In the cave, her father shows her a spaceship. Naomi asks if it’s the ship she came in, and her father says – nope, it’s his ship. He was a soldier too, from Rann, and also in an elite squad. He was sent on a mission to Earth to track down a missing elite Thanagrian soldier. Once on Earth though, he met Naomi’s mother and fell in love. He decided to abandon his mission. And once he found Dee, finding him to be no current threat, he, Dee, and Naomi’s mother basically decided to stay out of each other’s way and to keep their secrets, secret.

Naomi’s parents were happy but her mother desperately wanted a child and they couldn’t have one. Traditional adoption would be difficult since her father had no history from before he suddenly arrived. One night something happens. Dee and Naomi’s father rush to where their communication equipment points them – and find a small battle. And a baby that all the warriors are trying to kill. The battle ends quickly, everyone else leaves, and the baby, Naomi, is left behind. Dee admits he cannot care for a child, so Naomi’s father takes her in. The only information they have is a blanket wrapped around the baby and a device with it.

In the cave, Naomi gets into the spaceship belonging to her father. She touches the device and suddenly glows with power. Next, she is telling her best friend, Annabelle, everything that has happened. When she touched the device, she felt a rush of power – but also received a message. The message was from her biological mother, an alien from a planet that experienced something called The Crisis. After an environmental disaster, and the destruction of the Ozone layer, the planet is bathed in radiation. But instead of killing everyone outright – 29 people receive superpowers. In short, they are turned into gods. One of these gods is a serial killer and criminal, who makes himself dictator of the world. The others band against him, but there’s some sort of infighting as well. Several of these new superheroes/gods die, others leave. Only a few are left, and the dictator, Zumbado, rules the planet, destroying everything with constant war. Naomi’s parents, both newly created superhero-gods, fall in love and have Naomi, but Zumbado wants this child. They give her to a friend, Akira, to bring to Earth. Akira succeeds. Zumbado kills Naomi’s birth parents. Naomi is able to use her power to escape and return to Earth. When Zumbado follows her, she uses her power to banish him. But although she is extremely powerful, she also has no idea how to really use her powers or what they are. But she is back with her family.

Naomi is a beautiful graphic novel. The artwork is incredible, it really is. The story, well, it’s an origin story, and is mostly exposition, with the promise of more to come. But that’s not really a criticism, as this is a very fresh and exciting story – it’s just only at the beginning. I hope to read more soon. Naomi does join another title in the Wonder Comics line, Young Justice plus notes on the graphic novel collection make me think her title will continue. I hope so. This book is highly recommended. Read it – you will not be disappointed.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Hidden Human History

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Hidden Human History
  • Authors: Jody Houser
  • Artists: Roberta Ingranata (Artist), Rachael Stott (Artist),  Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Viviana Spinelli (Assistant Colorist), Sarah Jacobs (Letterer), John Roshell (Letterer)
  • Line:  13th Doctor
  • Characters: Thirteenth Doctor, Graham O’Brien, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin (“Yaz”) Khan
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/14/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The TARDIS lands in Europe in the 1500s, during the Guelder Wars, only for Yaz, Ryan, and Graham to be the ones explaining the time period instead of the Doctor. The Doctor wonders how they know so much about a rather obscure area of history, only for Ryan, Yaz, and Graham to explain they learned about it from a podcast called “Hidden Human History” or H3. According to the companions, “everyone” is listening to it. Team TARDIS runs into Magda who is running away from war and “monsters”. The Doctor and her companions discover the monsters are Stilean Flesh Eaters, an alien race that subsists on fresh blood. The Doctor remarks they were once carrion-eaters but they grew to prefer fresh blood instead. They also aren’t evil, just dangerous. In many ways, the Stileans are implied to be no worse than humans who eat meat. The Doctor finds these aliens and one bites her, although the Doctor isn’t hurt. The aliens chase the Doctor to the middle of the local village and the TARDIS Team is surrounded. But then alarm bells go off, rung by Magda. The Stileans leave.

The Doctor and her companions leave the 1500s and arrive in North Carolina in 1711 during Cary’s Rebellion – the subject of another episode of Hidden Human History. The Doctor and her team run into Schultz and Perkins who are now and have been for ten years agents of the Time Agency. Once again, the Stileans, who look closer to humans than they did in the 1500s – and somewhat owl-like are on the loose, taking advantage of the small war to find fresh blood and carrion. The Doctor tries to have a discussion with one of the Stileans, the one who bit her before, but their conversation is interrupted by the Time Agency agents. Still, Team TARDIS finds that a diet of human blood is altering the Stileans and making them more human-looking. The Doctor theorizes that one day they will be able to pass among humans.

Although the Time Agency agents suggest that the Doctor go to The Battle of Ridgeway, they find themselves instead at the funeral of William the Brave, then they travel to contemporary times to track down the woman behind Hidden Human History.

Team TARDIS tracks down Bethany Brunwine, podcaster, and meets her London flat. They enjoy tea and biscuits with the woman, who, yes, is the Stilean who bit the Doctor all those years ago. She was struck by something the Doctor said – history records names, facts, and dates but often ignores the stories of normal every day people who live through those times. Hidden Human History aims to bring the lives of normal people to, well, to life, as people whom contemporary people can emphasize with and understand. The Stilean has lived a very long life but will die soon. H3 is her way of giving back.

I enjoyed this volume of the Thirteenth Doctor by Titan Comics. It’s a fun, light adventure. and it’s a refreshing change to have a “monster” who is no more monstrous than the average carnivore. Also, one of the Stileans is inspired by the Doctor to not only “fit in” to Earth society but to teach humans about what they have missed in history, and to bring to life the stories of normal people. This is a light and enjoyable volume and I recommend it.

Book Review – Titans vol. 4: Titans Apart

  • Title: Titans vol. 4: Titans Apart
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artists: Paul Pelletier, Tom Grummett, Tom Derenick, Andrew Hennessy, Cam Smith, Mick Gray, Trevor Scott, Adriano Lucas, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual, Travis Lanham
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Arsenal (Roy Harper), the Justice League
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/31/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Titans vol. 4 Titans Apart picks up where the previous volume left off. After the near disasters of the previous volume, the Justice League arrives at Titans Tower and grounds the team, telling them they are no longer operational. Everyone goes their separate ways. Donna is taken to the Watchtower satellite and placed under house arrest. Wally moves into a new apartment and gets some help from Dick Grayson with his move. Only Roy Harper, Arsenal, ignores the order to stand down, launching a one-man war on drugs, especially a new designer street drug called Bliss.

Roy goes after the drug dealers, suppliers, and labs – and runs into his old girlfriend, Cheshire. She saves his rear during a firefight and explains she’s working for a consortium of families who lost love ones to drugs. Together Cheshire and Roy take down an Intergang distribution site and lab that is producing a knockoff of Bliss and even find a sample of the original drug. Heading to Roy’s apartment, they celebrate with some pizza and then sleep together.

Roy had also been in contact with Donna by phone since she’s under guard in the Watchtower. But when Cheshire shows up, Roy gently tells Donna he thinks it isn’t good for her to continue to be in contact with him. This has more to do with Roy hanging out with his ex-girlfriend, Cheshire, than his sudden disinterest in Donna. Donna, unfortunately, thinks that Roy might have slipped back into his drug addict ways while trying to take down dealers.

Roy wakes up, to find Cheshire and the sample gone – and realizes he’s been dosed with Bliss. Roy also realizes there is something far more dangerous going on than a new street drug. Unfortunately, when he calls Donna, she is more convinced than ever that he’s, well, taking drugs. Donna, to her credit, tells Batman and Wonder Woman what Roy told her, but of course, they don’t believe her and Batman even insists he’s done a sweep with Watchtower equipment and found nothing.

Meanwhile, we find out Mallus, the intelligent gorilla and Brain – the hyperintelligent brain in a jar, are behind Bliss. The drug forms a gestalt or cloud mind that Brain taps into to raise his intelligence even more. Brain wants to ascend, so he won’t be dependent on his life support unit. Mallus (the French hyper-intelligent gorilla) cares for Brain and tries to help him through the pain.

As Brain grows ever more intelligent, he also figures out how to control the weather and sends storms and disasters all over the world. The Justice League responds, but the storms are traps keyed to each member of the League and meant to destroy them. Donna t first tries to convince Batman that the storms prove Roy was right. When Batman insists the storms are random, Donna leaves the Watchtower. Brain then organizes an electronic break-in of the Watchtower systems and an attack on Batman.

Dick and Wally are initially sent by Batman to bring Roy in to get him help. However, especially once Donna arrives, the other three Titans realize Roy was right in the first place. They storm the hideout belonging to Mallus and Brain. All the time, Brain is getting more and more intelligent and seems to be attaching himself from Mallus, his caregiver and friend.

The four Titans fight Brain’s robot defenders, successfully. But when they are attacked again, they have more trouble getting through the fight. They run into Mallus and convince him to help them to save Brain. Mallus, with help from the Teen Titans, is able to defeat Brain, who goes back to his normal hyper-intelligent self. When the Justice League arrive, again, the Titans point out that, first of all, Roy was right, there was a major threat brewing, and secondly the Titans handled it just fine without their mentors and they deserve to be back on active duty.

I liked this issue of Titans. It’s really about young adults coming out from underneath their “parents” (mentors) shadows. And it’s Roy, who doesn’t have a mentor any more, who ends up pushing the others to independence and to insisting that their famous parents treat them as adults. Also, despite the “Titans Apart” title, this book is really about the Titans coming together as friends first, and as a team second, and I liked that very much. Titans vol. 4 Titans Apart is a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Aneke, Laura Braga, Carmen Carnero, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Ortiz, Wendy Broome (Colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colors) J. Nanjan (Colors), Sandra Molina (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: (Poison) Ivy, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Power Girl, Raven, Zatanna, John Constantine, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), Lt. Francine Charles, Batgirl (Vampire Barbara Gourdan), Enchantress, Ravager, Hugo Strange, Faora Hu-Ul, Ed Nygma, Swamp Thing, Trigon
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/02/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The final volume in the Bombshells series, volume 6 War Stories brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion, although there will be a sequel series called, Bombshells United. This volume largely takes place during the Seige of Leningrad, though there are different areas of the battle. There are also a few flashbacks that largely work.

However, the first story in Volume 6 is largely unconnected. The Suicide Squad (Barbara Gourdan), Ravager, Enchantress, Killer Croc, and Lt. Frankie Charles) sneak aboard a German U-boat commanded by Edward Nygma. They’ve come to rescue Luc Fuchs, an engineer and close friend of Barbara’s. They discover the sub is a ship of tribute to the King Beneath the Black. The Suicide Squad rescues the engineer, foils Nygma’s plot, and escapes.

A flashback introduces Faora Hu-Ul, a Kryptonian, who is the real power behind Joker’s Daughter, the Baroness, Killer Frost, and Hugo Strange. She was hidden in an Egyptian tomb explored by Lt. Charles. Charles hears the warning about Faora, and it is instrumental in her joining the Suicide Squad under Amanda Waller.

But the introduction of Faora Hu-Ul, and the adventure with Nygma are mere prologue – the rest of the book is the final conflict between good and evil during the Seige of Leningrad. This includes magical conflicts. Zatanna and John Constantine are looking for Raven. Raven is looking for her father, Trigon. Supergirl hopes to see her adoptive parents again. The theme of parents, children, and family is strong.

When Raven finds Trigon and confronts him, she is angry that he never took responsibility for the harm he did. Raven is also upset he joined the Nazis. But when Trigon is killed – Raven loses control of her magic. With help from Zatanna and John, she learns to control it. Constantine meets Abigel Kholland who is leading Russia’s magical creatures that escaped the Nazis, including Swamp Thing.

Reaper finds Hugo Strange and kills him because he murdered her family but she is then killed in turn by Killer Frost. Killer Frost is then captured by Lois Lane.

Faora tells Kara (Supergirl) about Krypton and tries to recruit her in her plan to create a Kryptonian Empire on Earth. Supergirl refuses because she’s shocked that Faora destroyed Krypton. Kara feels it is better to work within the system to improve and fix it, rather than to destroy everything. As Raven rejected Trigon, Kara rejects Foara. She even uses Kryptonite to capture Faora, who had become Doomsday, inside Swamp Thing. Kara is also reunited with her foster parents and her sister, Stargirl’s biological father. The reunion doesn’t last, because they sacrifice themselves in the spell to bind Faora.

I really enjoyed the Bombshells series. Volume 6 War Stories rushes to a conclusion but it is still a good read. I felt including a Kryptonian who turns into Doomsday using magic and Raven’s blood was unnecessary. But, on the other hand, Joker’s Daughter and the Baroness had already been defeated. Killer Frost is defeated in this volume, but not before doing a lot of damage. There are also some great panels in this volume (I loved seeing John transform himself into a hare again.) And the art is stunning. And I loved seeing both Supergirl and Raven confront their evil parental figures, rather than just agreeing with them out of hand. However, this volume could have used more character development (there’s some – but it’s mostly a series of battles, including magical ones.) I recommend the series and this volume in particular.

Book Review – Teen Titans Raven

  • Title: Teen Titans Raven
  • Author: Kami Garcia
  • Artists: Gabriel Picolo (Artist), Jon Sommariva (Artist), Emma Kubert (Artist) David Calderon (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Rachel “Raven” Roth, Natalia Navarro, Max(ine) Navarro
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/26/2019

**Spoiler Alert** DC Comics Ink Series presents graphic novels that are meant for teen readers, especially young women. Teen Titans Raven is an origin story about Raven of the Teen Titans, but it takes entirely before she joins the Titans, or even before she is a superhero. The story opens with Raven and her foster mother having an intense discussion in a car, the foster mother is talking about finally signing the adoption papers – when they are in a car accident. Her mother is killed, and Raven physically recovers quickly but she has lost her memory. She has practical knowledge: how to do a math equation or to use an ATM, but she doesn’t know anything personal – her favorite song, her fashion preferences, what type of candy bar is her favorite. Raven is, in many ways, a blank slate.

She is sent by Social Services to New Orleans to her foster mother’s sister, Natalia, and becomes friends with Natalia’s daughter, Max.

Much of the book is about Raven’s experiences in high school with Max and her friends. Raven realizes she can hear other people’s thoughts, and she tells Max she is overwhelmed by the constant noise of the school. Max gives her noise-canceling headphones to help. Raven is haunted by an evil voice in her head. Sometimes when she thinks something bad about someone (such as hoping the school bully trips) it happens. Raven also keeps seeing a bird shadow in her dreams.

In order to help, Max also takes Raven to a local Tarot card reader and teaches her how to build a psychic shield to help protect herself and block out other people’s thoughts. The Tarot reader says Raven is an empath.

School continues – and everything comes to a head at the prom. Raven’s date is working for Slade Wilson, who wants to recruit Raven. Trigon the demon, who has haunted Raven throughout the story, attacks her. Natalie receives a warning from her dead sister and tries to protect Raven and fight off Trigon, including calling souls to form a binding circle around Trigon. Max is also Soulstorm who can speak to souls and harness their power. Max, Natalie, and the female souls of New Orleans help – but it’s Raven who rejects Trigon and traps him in her crystal necklace. The next morning, Raven gets a note from Slade. She decides to try to find him. Max offers to go with her, but Raven says she will do this on her own.

I enjoyed Teen Titans Raven the art is gorgeous and Raven is an engaging hero. I also liked Max, Natalie, and the friends Raven makes at Max’s school. The end of the graphic novel felt a bit incomplete. Slade Wilson usually isn’t a nice guy, so just what is he offering Raven? We never know. I’d like a sequel to this story. The book includes a preview chapter of Teen Titans Beast Boy which I am going to have to look for. I highly recommend Teen Titans Raven.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 5: The Death of Illusion

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 5: The Death of Illusion
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Elsa Charrettier, Carmen Carnero, Richard Ortiz, Rachael Stott, Aneke, Wendy Broome (colors), J. Nanjan (colors), Sandra Molina (colors), Hi-Fi (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Miriam (Captain Marvel/Shazam), (Poison) Ivy, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Power Girl, Raven, Zatanna, John Constantine, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), Lt. Francine Charles, Batgirl (Vampire Barbara Gourdan), Enchantress, Ravager, Hugo Strange, Steve Trevor, Alexander Luthor
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/23/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells is DC Comics’ alternate history series set in World War II and starring a female superhero team. Volume 5 is much more coherent than the previous volume and starts with a song being sung by Captain Marvel, Miriam, aka Shazam. She catches the reader up on everything that has been happening with all the major players from the last volume and a few we haven’t seen for a while, and she does it in song – or at least rhyme. This review really helps orient the reader.

The novel opens formally on Atlantis, with Ivy and Harley Quinn, and Raven, Zatanna, and Constantine. Ivy has been using her talents with plants to provide food for Miriam’s refugees. She sees a headline about starvation in Leningrad, Russia, due in part to the Nazi’s siege of the city and in part to the Russian Winter. Ivy decides she cannot let people starve when she can provide them food. She talks to Mera, explaining the seeds she leaves behind will provide food for the entire city of Atlantis. Ivy and Harley and a stowaway take Mera’s gift of a flying manta ray named Fawkes and head for Russia. Meanwhile, John Constantine and Zatanna are trying to help Raven learn to control and use her magic. Raven, though, keeps having nightmares. She decides she must find her father, Trigon the Demon, last seen in Russia. Raven doesn’t ask John or Zatanna for help or permission – she stows away on Fawkes. In Russia, Fawkes is attacked in the air, and Raven panics and cannot focus enough to use her magic. Ivy saves them from being destroyed. They meet a circus that is being attacked by magical forces and Nazis. Ivy, Harley, and Raven join with the now freed circus people and animals to save Leningrad.

Meanwhile, Kara (Supergirl) and Steve Trevor are on a train, traveling from Turkey to Russia. Kara is also hoping to find the little family she has left – her father, who, last she heard was in a Russian Gulag. On the train, they are attacked by Alexander Luthor, a Russian spy, and a German SS agent. But Supergirl somehow reverses time. Again, she is attacked but this time at least the train isn’t destroyed killing all aboard. Supergirl is taken to the secret genetics lab run near Leningrad by Hugo Strange.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), and Killer Frost are heading to Russia by plane in hot pursuit of Hugo Strange. Killer Frost reveals she isn’t as tame as she let everyone think, she’s also considerably stronger than she let on, and she’s determined to find and kill Strange. Frost crashes the plane, escaping on an ice trail. But Lois and Andrea are rescued by Ivy, Harley, and their circus. All of them, plus Dr. October, whom Ivy has run into, go off to both help the starving people of Leningrad, and to find out about Hugo Strange’s new superweapon. Ivy is shocked by the conditions in Leningrad – she uses her affinity with plants to bring the people food. This costs her a lot of energy, but she will recover.

Supergirl wakes up in a cage, being held by Hugo Strange. She resists, and he introduces her to his superweapon – Power Girl, a clone of Supergirl. Initially, Power Girl is Strange’s stooge, a weapon more than a person. But Supergirl is able to win over her clone, and they both fight Strange after Power Girl rescues Steve Trevor. As they are about to just leave, Lois Lane arrives to rescue Kara. Kara, however, no longer needs rescuing. Lois mentions a third heat signature, and Power Girl leads them to Superman, another of Hugo Strange’s genetic clones. They are attacked by Strange’s genetic monsters but escape.

The last story is a bit separate. Amanda Waller recruits Lt. Francine Charles out of West Point and sends her to Louisana to find Barbara Gourdon. Barbara was born in France in 1896, she fought in World War I as a flying ace but fell in love with the Flying Fox. She disappeared after his “death”. Francine finds Killer Croc, Vampire Barbara, Enchantress, and Ravager. The other three women form a coven, but won’t leave their swamp due to a prophecy. Francine reveals that the Flying Fox is still alive and also they are missing the last two important lines of the prophecy. The four join her and she takes them to Amanda Waller, who introduces them to the other Bombshells as her new “Suicide Squad” unit.

I really enjoy Bombshells it’s a great take on alternate views of a large number of great female characters in the DC Universe. Some of these characters, like Zatanna, are very much the same as the characters we know and love – others like Barbara Gordan (Gourdan) are very different, and some, like Miriam (Shazam) are gender-flipped (though there was at one point a Mary Marvel in the Marvel family). Volume 5 was much more coherent than volume 4, and using rhyming songs to open and close the story added something unique. There are also some flashbacks in the story, such as filling in Lois’s background and the loss of her mother to Hugo Strange, but the flashbacks support the story and do not distract from it. This volume is highly recommended.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 4: Queens

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 4: Queens
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Marguerite Sauvage (art & colors), Richard Ortiz, Sandy Jarrell, Pasqualle Qualano, Matías Jarrell,  J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Jerry Lawson (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batgirls, Batwoman (Kate Kane), Renee Montoya (The Question), Hawkgirl, Catwoman, Vixen, Cheetah, Wonder Woman
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/12/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells is DC Comics’ alternative history World War II series starring an all-female superhero team. I love the concept and usually really enjoy the series, but I must admit that this volume was confusing and disjointed.

The first story is short and fairly straightforward. It features the Batgirls, the young girls and teenagers who were inspired by Kate Kane’s Batwoman to protect Gotham City, especially anyone who is dispossessed. They have taken in Harvey Dent, and the story opens with Dent and the Batgirls watching a baseball game. At the game, Dent is attacked by The Reaper. The Reaper makes it clear they want to kill Harvey, the Penguin, Killer Frost, and Dr. Hugo Strange. The Batgirls decide that as bad as those villains are they belong in jail and shouldn’t be killed so they go to warn them. They warn Penguin first, but Reaper follows the Batgirls (and Harvey Dent) and kidnaps Frost. The Batgirls are able to rescue Frost and to arrest Penguin who offers up info in exchange for Frost being rescued. But during a conflict with the Reaper they find out he is a she, and Harvey is attacked with an ice blast and his face is disfigured. But the Batgirls convince him it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. Lois goes after the Reaper who escapes and is after Dr. Hugo Strange.

The second story is about Vixen, Zambesi, and Hawkgirl. I had to read it several times because it was very confusing and hard to follow. In addition, there were several flashbacks which filled in the backgrounds of the characters – except the placement of the flashbacks were weird – characters would be in the middle of a battle and suddenly they are thinking of their childhood as an orphan. It’s like, huh? For example, towards the end, Wonder Woman shows up in the middle of a big battle between the Bombshells, some Thangarian mechs, and Nazis – but instead of seeing her battle everyone, we get a flashback to Supergirl on Thermyscira mourning Stargirl and Diana and Steve Trevor trying to figure out how to comfort her. It’s interesting and follows up to Supergirl losing Stargirl in the last volume but it has nothing to do with the current story, it interrupted the battle, and it really didn’t make sense to be in the book where it was. And the majority of the flashbacks were like that – they were interesting, and by themselves, I liked the mini-stories, but they interrupted the flow of the novel making it even harder to figure out just what was going on.

Mari McCabe, Vixen, competes in the 1936 Olympics – beating the Nazis super soldier, despite said soldier trying to trip her during the race. That night, she and Hawkgirl break into Hitler’s office and are attacked by a mechanical hawk. Mari steals Hitler’s dog, Blondie, and some plans and heads back to Zambesi with Hawkgirl. Mari remarks they have about five years to figure out a plan. Later, at a dig in Zambesi, Kate Kane, Catwoman, Renee Montoya, Hawkgirl, and Mari (Vixen) are investigating another mech – this time a giant rhino. It seems inactive, but then Cheetah shows up and it goes on a rampage.

The Bombshells are set against Cheetah, the Baroness, the Snakegirl (Whisper A’Daire), the mechs – which turn out to be from Thanagar, and miscellaneous Nazi troops. The primary characters are Vixen, Kate Kane (Batwoman), Renee Montoya (the Question), Wonder Woman (at the very end), Hawkgirl, Blondie (the dog), and Catwoman. When Cheetah, the Baroness, Snakegirl and the rest show-up, Catwoman briefly appears to be still working for the Nazis – but it’s a ruse. We also briefly see Alexander Luthor, who gives Wonder Woman Kryptonite and seems to be controlling the strings, especially in the case of Catwoman.

The Bombshells defeat the Thanagarian mechanical beasts – and Wonder Woman offers the recipe for Greek Fire to truly destroy them rather than bury them again. The Nazis and their allies are driven out of Zambesi.

I like the Bombshells series – it’s just fun to see so many female heroes working together. And I really like the friendships between the various characters. I did like the background stories in Volume 4 – Queens. And the modern-day story of extremely old alien tech being uncovered and causing trouble for everyone (the Nazis and their allies think they can control the Mechs – they are wrong) I also liked. But the presentation was extremely confusing. The time jumps were hard to follow, and as interesting as the background information was – it often seemed to interrupt the “present day” story rather than add to it. I still highly recommend the Bombshells series. This is an excellent series for teenaged women to read and to get introduced to comics too.

Book Review – Doctor Who 12th Doctor: A Confusion of Angels

  • Title: Time Trials vol. 3: A Confusion of Angels
  • Author: Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Francesco Manna, Pasquale Qualano, Hi-Fi (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line: 12th Doctor
  • Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Bill Potts, Nardole
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Collected Issues: Year 3 (#10 – 13)
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/12/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The third and final volume of Titan Comics Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor Year 3 series, A Confusion of Angels actually picks up where volume 2 left off. Having picked up some spare parts they needed at the Ubermart, Bill, the Doctor (as played by Peter Capaldi on the BBC television series), and Nardole are in the TARDIS when they come across a container ship that is drifting in space. The TARDIS Team steps out into the ship and the first thing they hear is a scream – and thus starts an exciting, tense, homage to Alien. The TARDIS team encounters a very suspicious engineer and slightly less suspicious medical doctor who accuse them of being murderers and pirates. The Doctor sends Bill back to the TARDIS to enact emergency protocol 13-9 while the Doctor and Nardole convince the people they’ve encountered to take them to the bridge. Emergency protocol 13-9 gives Missy temporary control of the TARDIS and Bill is left behind on the endangered ship. Bill meets Chief Engineer Berthold who is accompanied by Gabriel, a host android she constructed from two broken Host androids. The Chief Engineer also shows Bill the ships’ company hold is filled with Host androids that are currently deactivated. As they head to the bridge, they meet the suspicious engineer who accuses Bill of piracy and murder. Bill barely manages to convince him to take her to the bridge and the Doctor rather than the brig.

Once they reach the bridge, however, they discover the Doctor has fixed the telecommunications system, sent an SOS call, restored lighting to the bridge, and started on a more permanent fix to the lighting, which is being drained by something in the hold. The Judoon arrive to “rescue” the ship, under the command of Margaret Ag-Kris-Therur-Ford-Jingatheen, essentially the Slitheen we know from the first season of New Who who, having been fostered from an egg by a good family, is now on the side of law and order and a Shadow Proclamation detective. The Doctor discovers that Weeping Angels are on the ship, the ship’s crew activate the Host to use as internal “eyes and ears” which backfires as “whatever holds the image of an Angel becomes an Angel”. The Doctor also realizes the missing crew members haven’t been murdered but are missing. Then, unfortunately, he is captured and sent back in time by an Angel.

Meanwhile, the Judoon ship, as well as the container ship, have no engines and are falling into a nearby sun. The crew, Bill, Nardole, and the Judoon, led by Margaret also have no idea how to stop the Weeping Angels and the Host that have transformed into Angels. They discover the container that is taking power from the container ship contains Cyborg refugees and their families who are fleeing an aggressively anti-Cyborg regime on Sto. One of the people hidden in the container wears a clown mask. He turns out to be the Doctor having gotten there by the long way around. He was sent back in time by the Weeping Angel to Sto, where he became involved in Cyborg rights and fighting the repressive regime. He eventually decided to work from within, getting a job at Max Capricorn Industries, giving suggestions for naming ships, and eventually creating an Underground Railroad to help Cyborgs escape from Sto to more tolerant planets. The people in the container were refugees he was helping. The Doctor also comes up with a plan to get all the people, including the refugees, the Container ship crew, and the Judoon on the Judoon ship and then use the Host Androids to both send the empty container ship and it’s Weeping Angels into the sun, and provide energy for the Judoon ship to escape.

A Confusion of Angels is a fun space adventure. The Weeping Angels come across as effectively scary again. It was also fun to see the Easter eggs: Max Capricorn, the Doctor’s reference to a mummy, the Host, the Judoon, and Margaret – Slitheen no longer (I loved that she was finally a good person). I did find this graphic novel to be a bit confusing at times, however. Still, it was a great adventure story. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who 12th Doctor: The Wolves of Winter

  • Title: Time Trials vol. 2: The Wolves of Winter
  • Author: Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Brian Williamson, Pasquale Qualano with Edu Menna & Marcelo Salaza, Hi-Fi (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line: 12th Doctor
  • Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Bill Potts, Nardole
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Collected Issues: Year 3 (# 5 – 7 and 9)
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/10/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Vikings and Ice Warriors and Fenric, oh my! The second volume of Titan Comics third year of Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor stories brings in Bill Potts – finally. It’s good to have a permanent companion for the Doctor again. The TARDIS lands on a volcanic island in the 9th Century CE, where the Doctor and Bill meet some friendly Vikings. The Vikings assume the Doctor is a messenger of the gods, especially after they see inside the Doctor’s TARDIS. The Vikings tell the Doctor about seeing two lights in the sky – one which appeared to burn up but the other disappeared. Thinking it was a ship that landed, the Vikings, The Doctor and Bill investigate. They find a group of Ice Warriors. The Ice Warriors are pursuing one Warrior who was infected by the Flood and escaped Mars in a stolen vehicle. Knowing that if the Flood infects Earth it will destroy the planet, the Ice Warriors want to destroy it first. The Doctor quickly talks the Ice Warriors and Vikings into forming an alliance. They even agree to kill anyone on either side infected by the Flood and possessed.

The Doctor formulates a plan – the Vikings will go inside the warm volcanic mountain, where the heat threatens the Ice Warriors, and the Ice Warriors will guard the exits. All are armed with sonic weapons. But the Doctor also feels he has to give the Flood a chance, so he dresses in a spacesuit and enters the volcano to speak to the Flood. He discovers a Haemovore, Viking runes, a cursed treasure, chess pieces, and other clues that link to Fenric. The names of the Vikings are also familiar. The Doctor tells Bill a little of his Seventh incarnation’s encounter with Fenric.

However, The Doctor is able with the help of the Vikings and Ice Warriors to defeat Fenric (for now) and prevent his poisoning of the Earth with the Flood. The Ice Warriors leave in their spaceship and the Vikings head off in their longboat by “the South way” with their cursed treasure hidden away. As they leave, the Doctor and Bill see a polar bear with her cub – the purpose of their journey originally.

In the second, much shorter story, the vault where the Doctor is holding Missy, needs to have a part replaced so the Doctor, Bill and Nardole head to the Ubermart. There the Doctor and Bill are soon separated. Bill meets a young girl who has also gotten lost. Bill and the girl are pursued by Owl-like creatures and both Bill and the Doctor and Nardole are harassed by the store’s security bots. Eventually, they all meet up again. The young girl turns out to be a Pathicol – symbiotic beings that feed on empathy. The owl-like beings are the Pathicols in their natural, undisguised, state, and quite friendly. The child is returned to her family and the Doctor, Bill, and Nordole return to the TARDIS.

I enjoyed this story very much. It ties into the New Who Tenth Doctor story, “The Waters of Mars” and the Seventh Doctor story, “The Curse of Fenric” – which is one of my favorites. The Ice Warriors in this story are Classic Ice Warriors and also an intelligent proud warrior species, who end-up as good friends with the Viking Warriors. The story also has several awesome references to Norse Mythology that makes a lot of sense. The artwork in the story is also beautiful. And it was great to finally see Bill Potts in the comics! The second story is short and cute, and a good way to round off this collection. The Pathicol in their native state though did remind me of the Court of Owls from Batman. Anyway, this collection is highly recommended.