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 Cover Under the Moon

Book Review – Under the Moon A Catwoman Tale

  • Title: Under the Moon A Catwoman Tale
  • Author: Lauren Myracle
  • Artists: Isaac Goodhart (Artist), Jeremy Lawson (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/08/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is the second book in DC Comics new DC Ink young adult graphic novel series. This story was even better than Mera Tidebreaker (which was still excellent) though it also has some very sad parts to the story. Selina Kyle is the daughter of a single mother who she describes as “a cocktail waitress”. Selina is less than happy that her mother is constantly bringing home a string of terrible men, each worse than the last. Selina also attends a school where she has a few friends, though she’s close with the few friends she has.

One night Selina’s mother brings home Darnell and he stays. Darnell is abusive, lazy, stupid, and a complete lout. He hits Selina and her mother, and her mother does nothing to stop it. Selina begins to think of running away. Early one morning, Darnell orders Selina to take out the trash, telling her he doesn’t want any “freeloaders” in the house. Selina does so and just keeps walking. She finds a little kitten, washes it in a public bathroom, and brings it home and hides the kitten in her room. She feeds it and tells the kitten, Cinders (after Cinderella) all her secrets and problems. We know this isn’t going to go well.

The next day, Selina is in a great mood – she’s happy to have someone to love and someone who, for once, gives her unconditional love. But when she gets home from school, Darnell spots Cinders. He grabs the poor kitten and puts her on top of a tall doorframe. Selina begs, saying the cat is too small to get down safely and she will fall. Then Darnell grabs Selina and locks her in the closet. Hours later her mother finally lets her out. But Cinders falls, knocks over a vase, and falls on the shards. The poor, vulnerable kitten dies.

Selina is, obviously, very upset. She blames herself. And she finally leaves her abusive home. When she walks out she cuts three scratches on her arm, to remind her of Cinders, and also puts three scratches on Darnell’s pick-up truck. Selina is now living on the streets. She tries to continue to attend school, but it doesn’t work out well. Formerly, she would steal things she wanted and give them away. Now, she steals to survive. She finds a house with a shed since the owner of the house never uses the shed, she moves in.

One day, Selina sees another teenager scale a building. She talks to the young man and finds out what he’s doing is called Parkour. The teen, Ojo begins to train her in Parkour. Selina takes to it like a duck to water. Ojo says he lives with two other teenagers, and invites Selina to join them. Selina declines. Selina also introduces herself to Ojo as “Catgirl” – a name she’s taken to honor Cinders.

Winter comes to Gotham, and Selina continues to exist on the streets, with her shed and getting trained by her friend, Ojo. But one day she returns to the shed and finds a pile of blankets and a note, offering help. Selina is spooked and goes to the address Ojo gave her. She meets the other two street kids – Yang a computer hacker and Briar Rose, a 9-year-old girl who doesn’t talk and who screams if touched. Ojo, Yang, and Briar Rose have a nice headquarters in an abandoned warehouse.

Soon Selina finds out how the group exists – they are thieves and Yang is currently plotting to steal an antique and rare book from “some rich dude”. He’s found a buyer online and the book is worth $17,000 dollars. The four begin planning their heist.

Also, in Gotham, a serial killer called the Growler is active and killing people. No one knows who or what he is. Large paw prints are also found at the scenes of the crimes. During what is supposed to be a dry run for the heist but at a different building, Selina, Ojo, and Yang end up seeing up close a man killed by the Growler. They run.

During the actual heist, with Briar Rose, Selina discovers to her display that the mansion she is in belongs to Bruce Wayne. She can’t steal from Bruce and decides to put the book back. But then everything goes south – the Growler arrives, both Selina and Bruce fight it – though in the confusion neither recognizes the other, and Briar Rose disappears with the book.

Ojo, Yang, and Selina meet up at their HQ and realize Briar Rose is gone. By this point, Selina has become quite fond of the young girl and feels responsible for her. She is now determined to find Rosie, as she calls her. Selina had, prior to the theft, told Rosie about Bruce and programmed the cell phone Yang got them with his phone number. Rosie, in turn, enters it in Selina’s phone. They get a call from Bruce, not that anyone realizes at first who it is. Bruce offers info on Rosie.

Selina (Catgirl) goes to meet Bruce. Bruce tells her he found Rosie on his property with the book. He took her in, and let her stay in a guest room, with the book. Rosie had drawn pictures that Bruce used in his message to “Catgirl”. But she had also run away.

Selina thanks Bruce for the information and heads out, determined again to find Rosie. As she walks around, acquiring a group of cats following her, she finds flyers for some sort of religious children’s shelter. The young boy in the picture looks like Rosie’s young brother. (Yang had put together some information about Rosie, but since the young girl doesn’t talk no one knows for sure where she comes from.) Selina finds Rosie. Selina also is found by Bruce. While Bruce and Selina talk, Rosie runs off again. But Selina decides that, like herself, Rosie can make her own choices – and she hopes that Rosie finds her brother and everything is OK at the shelter.

Under the Moon a Catwoman Tale is an awesome book. I enjoyed it very much, even though much of the book is sad, and it deals with some very heavy issues – child abuse, cruelty to animals, homelessness. The book is sensitively written though and presents these issues very well.

The artwork in the book is fantastic, and has a blue-black was to it, representing the night. Flashback panels have a light purple wash. And after she loses Cinders, significant moments in Selina’s life are marked with a giant cat spirit above her – the cat is beautiful and adds a dimension to the story. Even though there is some sadness in this story, and Darnell’s treatment of Selina, her mother, and Cinders angers me, this is a good book, and something teenaged girls would probably enjoy. DC Ink is aimed at teens and young adults, and this is the second book in the series I’ve read, the other being Mera Tidebreaker. I highly recommend the series and this book.

Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom), Kaiyo the Chaos Demon, Catwoman (Selina Kyle), Alfred Pennyworth
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 9/30/2016

DC Comics New 52 book Batman/Superman has proved to be such a disappointment that I’ve decided not to continue to purchase this series, or to look-up the rest of it that’s already available. This book had two stories both with intriguing plots – and I can’t fault the series on plotting. It’s the characterization that just isn’t quite there.

I did like the first story, Batman and Superman return from wherever, and Batman collapses. Superman scans Batman with his X-ray vision and discovers a microscopic society and city in his brain. He immediately calls in Dr. Ray Palmer (in this story just becoming The Atom), who gives Superman a “shrink belt”, acknowledging himself that it needs a better name, and they, “The Incredible Journey”-style go inside Bats to safely remove the city and it’s people – and to save Batman as the city is pressing on his brain causing a coma. Inside Batman, they meet a alien woman who’s fleeing another alien dictator. They rescue her and toss the villain out, then remove the city. The story had a light touch, and with Ray there, even some appropriate humor. Superman was reticent and unemotional about Bruce’s condition – one of the problems with New 52’s take on Superman in general. Clark and Bruce are, or should be, great friends – not colleagues who can barely take working together.

The second story has Batman and Superman sent back to Earth-2 by the Chaos Demon Kaiyo, there they are merely ghosts – until they make a single choice to act, then they get the opportunity to try to change something. Naturally, these changes don’t have the effect they want. But, upon returning to regular DC Universe Earth, both Batman and Superman completely lose their respective memories. As total amnesiacs, they also have completely different personalities. Bruce is light and carefree. Alfred tells him, because he asks, what made him become Batman – but to Bruce, it isn’t something he experienced – it’s like hearing a story or watching a movie. For Alfred, he sees Bruce happy and is glad for it. Bruce then takes up the mantle of Batman again – as a duty, almost a job, a career – something he wants to do, but not an obsession – something he’s driven to do.

Superman is less successful in adapting to his new amnesiac status. He takes up with Catwoman (out of serendipity – she’s being attacked and he rescues her when he first arrives). Superman has no memory of Lois. And he has no family. (Sidenote: What happened to the Kents? This series keeps referring to Clark as a complete orphan and the Kents being killed in a car crash, presumably when Clark was still quite young. This makes no sense.) Superman also doesn’t hold back in the use of his powers. Eventually both Bruce and Superman get their memories back – Alfred is sad to see the Batman/Bruce he has known for so long head into the Cave.

I did like the full-page panels, one for Batman and one for Superman, of several images visually representing the two getting their memories back – it’s both a wonderful static image and yet something that represents each person experiencing a rush of memories. Well done. The rest of the art in the book is also good, though the characters have a less photo-realistic or even painted look than other series in the DC line.

Again, I’ve decided to not continue buying this series. I’m loving DC Rebirth , and there are collection series reprints from the 1990s (Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing and Birds of Prey) as well as a couple of New 52 series (Birds of Prey, Justice League Dark) that I enjoy much more. I loved the Superman/Batman series from the 1990s, it was well-written, at times brilliant, and I have all or nearly all of it (I might be missing one volume); Batman/Superman is disappointing.

Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee, Brett booth, Ben Oliver, Yildray Cinar, Norm Rapmund, Paul Siqueira, Netho Diaz
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman, Kaiyo (Darkseid’s Agent of Chaos), Lois Lane, Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/10/2016

I ended-up reading Batman/Superman, Volume 1 – Cross World twice because although I liked it the first time – I found it very confusing. The second time through, again, I enjoyed it but parts of it were still very confusing. The art in some places was truly inspiring – the double spread showing the parallels between Superman’s origins (including the deaths of Ma & Pa Kent in a car crash???) and Batman’s (the oft-told story of the death of Bruce’s parents – here reduced to 5 stunning panels) was incredible. When Wonder Woman arrives on her Pegasus holding a sword – that was awesome. But I could not, for the life of me, figure out who was who when it came to the two versions of Batman and especially the two versions of Superman. One version of Batman was married to Selina Kyle. The other was not. One was much older, the other younger. For Supes – one was older, much more powerful, and a bit arrogant. The other younger – leaping not even flying, and possibly wearing jeans and a T-shirt with the S-shield. The panels and art tended to be small and close-up, thus we couldn’t see who was who based on the different uniforms. On the other hand – the art was stunning, just stunning.

The story has an agent of Chaos (I thought at first it was Klarion the Witch-boy nemesis of Doctor Fate – it wasn’t. It was Kaiyo an agent of chaos from Apokolips bent on destroying Darkseid.) However, this isn’t really clear until towards the end of the book, and the final chapter tells Kaiyo’s story as well as giving the history of Darkseid. On my second read-through, knowing who Kaiyo was helped. She also had the power to possess people – taking over Catwoman, Lois, even Wonder Woman for brief periods.

Kaiyo – because she can, brings the heroes of two Earths together. Thus we have two Supermen and two Batmen, and a Wonder Woman. And on one Earth, the army has developed a weapon to take out Superman because they think he’s “too strong”. Kaiyo tells the Supermen, the Batmen, Wonder Woman, Lois, and Catwoman about this – after they’ve figured it out. She tells them they must choose – destroy the crystal, or keep it to destroy Darkseid. Needless to say because she’s an agent of choas she’s not super-clear about explaining this – but everyone had figured it out by the time she starts to explain it. When the crystal is destroyed – Kaiyo wipes the minds of everyone involved – thus they won’t be warned of Darkseid’s coming.

So that’s the storyline, but the fun comes in seeing two Supermen and two Batmen not only interacting with Superman and Batman but with the alternate universe versions of themselves. It’s fun – confusing – but fun. This is also a beautifully illustrated book. And the bonus section consisting of a “page to screen” with pages of dialogue and information explaining how it was then translated to the page by the artist were fascinating, and even explained the book a bit better (only certain pages or spreads were commented on – not the entire book). It was a fascinating look at how the process of pulling a graphic novel together works.

Book Review – Birds of Prey vol. 1 (1990s – Chuck Dixon)

  • Title: Birds of Prey vol. 1
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon, Sherilyn van Valkenburgh, Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Dave Grafe, Gloria Vasquez
  • Artists: Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Gary Frank, Stefano Raffaele, Matt Haley, Jennifer Graves, Sal Buscema, Dick Giordano, Greg Land, Albert T DeGuzman, Phil Felix, John Dell, Stan Woch, Wade von Grawbadger, John Lowe, Cam Smith, Bob McLeod, Wayne Faucher, Drew Geraci
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Huntress (Helena Bertinelli), Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
  • Collection Date: 2015 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Black Canary/Oracle Birds of Prey 1, Showcase ’96 3, Birds of Prey: Manhunt 1-4, Birds of Prey: Revolution 1, Birds of Prey: Wolves 1, Birds of Prey: Batgirl 1 (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/24/2015

Birds of Prey is DC Comics all-female superhero team. The team is lead not by a male hero nor a male mentor, but by a woman: Barbara Gordon who was once Batgirl but after the events of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke is now Oracle. Oracle is one of my favorite DC characters – after being paralyzed by gunshot – she returns to college, gets her MLS and becomes a librarian. However, not only does she remain independent with an excellent job, she’s also Oracle – the information hub for all the DC heroes especially Batman and Nightwing – and she runs her own organization of female heroes.

Birds of Prey Volume 1 is a reprint of several early Birds of Prey comics from the mid to late 1990s, written by Chuck Dixon. I hope DC reprints the entire run, because this volume gathers a number of specials, the stories are slightly disjointed. A few characters reappear, but really each issue within this volume could be read as a stand alone.

Other characters featured in the volume include: Black Canary (who’s awesome, has a much better new costume, and has dumped Oliver Queen), Catwoman (Oracle warns against working with her – Canary and Huntress do anyway), and Huntress. Featured villains include Lady Shiva, Mad Hatter, Spellbinder (who’s female) and corporate hack Nick Devine.

I enjoyed this volume very much, but it does have a strong, “Good start, where’s the rest?” feel to it. I would very much like to see more.

Birds of Prey – from Batman: The Brave and the Bold

This vid is a little different from the music videos I normally post on my blog.  Normally, I concentrate on videos that show the remarkable creativity of fans and today’s young people.  When I find something that I really like, that is positive, I pass it along for others to enjoy.

This vid is actually a clip from the Warner Brothers animated series, Batman:  The Brave and the Bold, which is one of the few Batman animated shows that I haven’t seen in it’s entirety nor do I own it on DVD.  I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, but not the entire series.  However, a friend clued me in to this musical scene, and since I love it – I thought I’d share.  Enjoy!

Copyright is of course to Warner Brothers, Warner Brothers animation, and Bob Kane.  I’m not making any profit from this, and copyright law now allows for the use of short clips for educational purposes.

If you are wondering who the Birds of Prey are, Birds of Prey was a comic book published by DC Comics, which featured several female DC heroes.  There also was a short-lived, live action series called Birds of Prey, which I have seen and really enjoyed.  The live action version featured Barbara Gordon, once Batgirl, now a paralyzed librarian by day and Oracle by night – the information source for the entire DC universe of heroes; Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, the hero originally from the book Green Arrow who had the superpower of a sonic scream; and Huntress the daughter of Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Bruce Wayne (Batman).

DC Comics History – Catwoman, Joker, Red Tornado, Robin

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This Month (Season) in DC History

The Joker and Catwoman were both introduced in 1940 in the first Batman title. The Joker was in two of the books stories. The first one included a killing spree with knives, guns, and, of course, Joker gas. In the 2nd one, Joker was stabbed in the heart and apparently dead but made a recovery in the ambulance. Catwoman, who was just known as “The Cat”, was aboard a yacht disguised as an old woman so that she could steal some jewels. Although Batman did see through her disguise, he didn’t keep her from escaping, sparking the romance between the Bat and the Cat.

What else happened in 1940?

  • Captain Marvel was introduced but not by DC Comics. Fawcett Publications introduced him to rival Superman. The alter-ego of Billy Batson attracted many readers but also attracted DC Lawyers…
  • Red Tornado was introduced but not the android you’re probably familiar with. Inspired by the Green Lantern, Ma Hunkel dressed up in red long underwear and used a cooking pot for a helmet. This working mother fought crime in New York and became very popular.
  • Robin was also introduced in this year, in this month even. We all know the story, a circus boy, who’s parents killed and was taken in by a millionaire. All that happened 73 years ago. You have to admit that Dick looks really good for his age.

Fascinating FACTS!!!!