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: 07/12/2018

**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.

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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.

Red-headed Mera peeks out of the water in her crown, holding a trident

Book Review – Mera Tidebreaker

  • Title: Mera Tidebreaker
  • Author: Danielle Paige
  • Artists: Stephen Byrne, David Calderon (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Mera, Arthur Curry, Thomas Curry, Atlanna
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/04/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Mera is an excellent graphic novel and I have already read it three times. Mera is a princess of Xebel and a bit of a rebel. Her country is being controlled by the country of Atlantis and like many Xebellians Mera wants her country to be independent and under its own rule. Her father, the king, has arranged her marriage to Larken, of the Trench, another undersea country. Mera and Larken were childhood friends, so Mera’s father, the Xebellian king, thinks its no problem to match Mera and Larken and join their countries together. Mera disagrees – she doesn’t love Larken and has no desire to marry him.

The story opens with a friend, Pilan, of Mera attending a protest against Atlantis and telling Mera about it over his wrist communicator. But rather than being in the palace getting ready for a diplomatic ball, Mera is secretly planning an act of protest herself – she draws a “no” symbol over the Atlantis symbol on the embassy. Pilan arrives to talk Mera out of her actions, and then Atlantian guards show up. In an attempt to escape, Mera uses bursts of highly concentrated water – which brings down part of the embassy wall. As she and Pilan leave they are found by Hikara, the head of the palace guard and a friend of Mera’s, she helps the two escape the guards.

Mera returns to the palace and gets ready for the ball. At the party, she is bored by the insipid comments of the other girls. Returning to her room, she remarks, “I am not my dress!”

That night she hears her father and Larken planning. Larken will go to the surface and kill Arthur the Atlantean prince. If he’s successful and brings Arthur’s head to the king, Larken will be allowed to rule Xebel. Mera is incensed. She decides to go to the surface and kill Arthur instead, proving herself worthy to rule. She meets with Hikara who gives her some advice, and who remarks she is turning herself in for the embassy attack. Mera isn’t happy to lose her friend, trainer, and advisor.

Mera finds Arthur on the shore and fakes drowning so he will “rescue” her. Arthur does and brings her to his home, a lighthouse. Once Mera is out of the water, she finds Hikara was right – she is weak and her water powers don’t work.

While she gains her strength, Mera gets to know Arthur. She discovers he is kind, giving, and basically a very good guy. He isn’t the monster she’d be raised to believe that all Atlanteans are. Mera is soon stuck with a very important decision – does she kill Arthur anyway, even though he seems to be a good person, and take his head to her father and claim her birthright? Or does she protect him instead? Arthur also doesn’t know anything about his Atlantean heritage.

Mera has some contact with Pilan via her wrist communicator until it’s lost in a scuffle. Larken shows up and again tries to talk Mera into ruling with him. She becomes more determined to have nothing to do with him.

Mera knocks herself and Arthur off a cliff into the ocean – but Arthur is able to breathe and speak underwater, like Mera, and he can also contact and control undersea creatures. This is a power Mera has never seen or heard of. Mera again realizes she can’t kill Arthur. As she decides to warn the Currys, Thomas Curry, Arthur’s father, admits that Atlanna is alive and ruling Atlantis. Mera tells the Currys her father is coming with his army and they must leave – escape. The Currys refuse, choosing to stand their ground.

At the shore, the Currys’ friends from Amnesty Bay also join them to defend their friends and neighbors. But the first army to arrive is Atlanna’s, because Thomas Curry called her using her trident. She and Thomas have a warm reunion, and she’s happy to see her grown son. Atlanna is less happy with Mera. But Mera admits she graffitied the embassy and it got a little out of control. She says it was an accident. Atlanna decides she will not start a war with Xebel or the Trench, that Arthur will stay on land for now, and Mera will pay recompense. Mera agrees, and when Arthur shows trepidation at this, Mera assures him it will be a slap on the wrist. Mera and Arthur promise to see each other again when they can.

Mera Tidebreaker is a great graphic novel. It really gets into Mera’s character, tells everything from her point of view, and makes her more than Arthur’s girlfriend or wife. The novel follows her path and sees her becoming independent of her father, her people, and her chosen husband to be. Also, the art is beautiful. The color scheme is a minty green, especially in the underwater scenes, which gives the book a different look. Mera herself has beautiful long bright red hair and is drawn at times in poses like a model. This is a beautiful young woman and a princess. Arthur and Thomas are both brunets in this book. Mera Tidebreaker is also the first book in DC Comics new DC Ink line, a new series of graphic novels aimed at teens and pre-teens. This book includes a sneak peek of the next title, Under the Moon – A Catwoman Tale. I really enjoyed Mera Tidebreaker and I highly recommend it, especially for younger readers.

Birds of Prey The Complete Series Review

  • Series Title: Birds of Prey
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  WB (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer, Rachel Skarsten, Shemar Moore, Ian Abercrombie, Mia Sara
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD

The WB’s Birds of Prey is loosely based on DC Comics various Birds of Prey comic book series. The series features three female superheroes: Oracle, Huntress, and Dinah, the teenaged daughter of Black Canary. Oracle is Barbara Gordon who was once Batgirl until she’s shot by the Joker and paralyzed (an event that is shown in the title sequence of every episode of this series). Barbara is a school teacher in this version of Birds of Prey, not a librarian and information specialist. Although she is an expert in computers, technology and information gathering (or as Alfred puts it in the introduction, “Master of the Cyberrealms”). She’s also dating Wade, another teacher from her high school. Huntress, Helena Kyle, is the daughter of Batman and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). In this version of the story, Selina gave up her life as a cat burglar when her daughter was born, but also raised her alone. Helena doesn’t even find out Batman is her father until after her mother is killed. Helena was young at the time of her mother’s murder, probably around eight to eleven (her exact age isn’t stated). Helena is also a metahuman. The intro on each episode describes her as “half-metahuman”, which doesn’t make sense – she has metahuman abilities so she is a metahuman, but I think they are using that term so the audience knows only one of her parents was a metahuman. Dinah runs away from her abusive foster family and finds the Birds of Prey. She has psychic powers including prophetic dreams and telekinesis, etc. As she’s young, she’s still learning her powers and Barbara and Helena take her in to train her. Alfred Pennyworth watches over the heroes, especially Barbara. Helena also meets the “one good cop” in the city, Reese, and they become uneasy partners, then friends, and finally somewhat romantically involved. The story takes place in New Gotham after Gotham City’s been destroyed in a disaster and Batman has disappeared.

All three women in Birds of Prey are awesome heroes and great fighters, yes, even Barbara. Helena’s fight scenes are always well-choreographed. Dinah is learning about her powers and how to be a hero and her abilities and confidence grow during the short series. Oracle is usually the voice in Helena’s ear, but she has the ability to take care of herself as needed. She’s given an arc with the development of her relationship with her boyfriend, Wade. Dinah’s mother, Black Canary comes back for one episode but is then killed. Mia Sara is Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who happens to be Helena’s court-ordered therapist, and a criminal psychopath trying to take over New Gotham – something of which the Birds of Prey are completely unaware.

The pilot introduces the characters, New Gotham, and the set-up for the series like any pilot. Individual episodes usually have a crime committed in Gotham that Reese is assigned to investigate. Helena works with Reese. The criminal usually turns out to be a Meta, so Dinah and Oracle help. The Birds and Reese eventually capture or stop the Meta. Often “stop” means the meta is killed, often by their own actions. There’s also a hidden Meta Bar at a place called No Man’s Land Collectables, with a bartender named Gibson who has the meta ability to remember every single thing he’s ever done, experienced, tasted, or seen, which is more of a curse than an ability. The “Meta crime happens, Reese and the Birds investigate, the Meta is stopped” formula is livened up by the continuing storylines for each of the Birds: Barbara’s relationship with Wade, Helena’s relationship with Reese, and Dinah’s coming to terms with her powers and later, losing her mother. There’s also some great fight scenes and the Metas that the Birds and Reese take on are interesting. There’s also the storyline of Helena opening up to her therapist, who happens to be Harley Quinn – opps.

In the final two-parter, first, the Birds go up against Clayface and a meta who turns out to be his son. Helena finds out it was Clayface who murdered her mother. Since Clayface is already in solitary confinement at Arkham, there isn’t anything more she can do. But she opens up to Dr. Quinzel, and this both sets up the final episode and causes lots of problems. In the final episode, Dr. Quinzel gets a scientist to develop a machine that transfers metahuman powers. Harley steals the power to deeply hypnotize people. She hypnotizes the scientist to jump out the window and the meta whose powers she took doesn’t survive the process. She’s learned from Helena about Barbara and Wade then hypnotizes Helena to do her bidding. She also kidnaps Gibson. Reese is called the investigate the double death of the scientist and the meta. There’s a disturbance at the metahuman bar, which the Birds investigate. Helena, under Harley’s influence, gives her information on the clock tower base and even Alfred ends up hypnotized. Harley kills Wade and brags about it to Oracle. She uses the tech in the clock tower to send a hypnotic signal to all the televisions in New Gotham and the city breaks out in rioting and craziness. However, Barbara comes up with a cure to the hypnotism and gets Helena back, and then develops polarized contacts to block Harley’s powers. Oracle, Huntress, Dinah, and Reese, with some help from a cured Alfred, are able to stop Harley and reverse her takeover of New Gotham’s televisions (and thus the city’s people). Harley is sent to Arkham. Alfred makes a phone call at the very end of the episode that’s really cool, which I won’t spoil, but if the show had a second season it could have led to something very interesting.

I enjoyed this show, though as this was my second watch through I noticed some of the show’s faults. Other than the pilot and the final episode, the general formula is there’s a crime, it’s a meta, the Birds have to figure it out, the Birds have to convince Reese it’s a Meta, and then they come up with a plan to catch the Meta. The continuing story and character development for two of the three main characters have them in a romance. But I actually enjoyed the story between Reese and Helena. And the story between Barbara and Wade didn’t shy away from her disability – especially in showing how against their relationship Wade’s parents were. It was a shame to see Wade fridged though. Overall, I like Birds of Prey and I can recommend it. This series dates from 2002 and aired on the WB Network which no longer exists. The DVDs also include Gotham Girls, a series of short animated adventures of Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl.

Book Review – Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder

  • Title: Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder: Scholars and Creators on 75 Years of Robin, Nightwing, and Batman
  • Author: Kristen L. Geaman
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/09/2019

Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder is an excellent essay collection about Dick Grayson – Robin, Nightwing, Agent of Spyral, and the heart of the DC Universe. Some of the essays in this collection take a strictly chronological approach – summarizing different eras in Dick Grayson’s career from his earliest days as Batman’s “young sidekick” to the New 52 Era of Grayson. Other essays use a particular lens to examine the character from Freudian psychology to Feminism. Grayson’s relationships with other important characters in his life including Alfred and also the Teen Titans are examined. Finally, the book concludes with interviews with some of the more influential writers of various DC Comics.

I really enjoyed this book, though it took me a while to read parts of it (I never was a fan of Freud and Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin left me cold. So the chapters devoted to those topics were tough going. But, on the other hand, the essay on New 52 including Grayson was very interesting – and I’m not a fan of New 52 either.) I also learned a lot about the history of the character and of DC Comics. I highly recommend this book to Grayson’s many fans, and to anyone who would like to learn more about the character and the history of DC Comics. Each essay is meticulously researched and documented with footnotes.

Superman The Complete Animated Series Review

  • Series Title: Superman: The Animated Series
  • Season: Complete Series
  • Episodes: 54
  • Discs: 7
  • Network: WB Animation
  • Cast: Tim Daly, Dana Delany, David Kaufman, Clancy Brown
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1, Animation

Superman: The Animated Series along with Batman: The Animated Series started off what became known as the Timm-verse, a series of related series by WB Animation based on DC Comics. Although I am quite a fan of Batman: TAS and later series Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and Young Justice – I had never watched Superman: TAS before, also the first series I saw chronologically was Justice League even though it was a later series in terms of when it was made. (I basically caught some of Justice League on Boomerang a sister channel to Cartoon Network and loved it so much I bought everything on DVD a set at a time. I did not see the Timm-verse in the chronological order of when it originally aired.) Superman has never been one of my favorite DC characters, though, I’m much more of a Batman fan, so I delayed ordering and watching this.

Superman: The Animated Series does well what other series in this set of shows do well – the stories emphasize the character from the comics as he was in the early modern age of comics. This isn’t an angsty Superman or a conflicted Superman who is unsure about his role. Also, other than showing the destruction of Krypton (a sequence repeated in the title sequence) and an almost montage of Clark being found and raised by the Kents and first using his powers as a teenager in Smallville, this series doesn’t dwell on Superman’s origin story. After the 3-part pilot, “The Last Son of Krypton”, the series settles down into its usual format: Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet, is secretly Superman and must battle bad guys and rescue people.

I’ve always found the character of Superman to be too perfect. He has the perfect parents, perfect job, perfect girlfriend, and he’s basically invulnerable to everything except for Kryptonite. That Superman is only vulnerable to Kryptonite is something so well known in modern culture, “What’s your Kryptonite? or, “he’s my Kryptonite” – has become slang for “What’s your vulnerability?” or “He/she’s my vulnerability?” In Superman: The Animated Series – Kryptonite is something that seems extremely easy for any villain to get. Also, because Superman is so over-powered, his villains are extremely over-powered. Many of the Superman: TAS episodes have an extremely strong villain (like Darkseid) show up and try to physically beat up Superman, which tends to not work. We also see a lot of Brainiac, who in this series comes from Krypton and was responsible for no one else being saved from the planet.

Superman: TAS also doesn’t build up a relationship between Lois and Clark. They are shown to be more colleagues than romantic partners. Clark’s relationship with Jimmy Olsen doesn’t get really explored until nearly the end of the series – when Jimmy gets a signal watch (something that Lois doesn’t have as far as I can tell). Even Clark’s relationship with his parents, Jonathon and Martha Kent, is not really explored. We see them a few times, but they are definitely background characters.

However, there are some episodes I really liked. One episode I enjoyed very much was “The Late Mr. Kent”. First, it had a monologue for Clark – this made him more relatable. If the entire series had used a monologue I probably would have liked it better. The episode tells the story of Clark investigating the case of a man found guilty of murder during a robbery and sentenced to be executed. Clark talks to the man and examines the evidence and believes that the man was, in fact, innocent – and framed. As Clark investigates further, he discovers proof. But then his car is blown up by a car bomb and crashes into the ocean. Because there’s a witness to the “accident” Clark fears he can’t just show up again, unhurt. Clark as Superman continues his investigation, while Lois, Jimmy and other characters mourn the death of Clark Kent. Eventually, Superman is able to prove that a dirty cop was behind everything – the frame up, planting evidence, the actual murder, etc. Superman also finds out the witness was unreliable, so with some help from Lana Lang, he returns as Clark, claiming he swam ashore and was under Lana’s care. The convicted man is released and the cop is executed instead.

There are also episodes of Superman: The Animated Series that introduce other characters from the DC universe, including Lobo, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Legion of Superheroes, and Batman. I, for the most part, enjoyed these team-ups. The Lobo two-parter felt a little flat to me, but the others range from good to excellent. There are three Batman-Superman team-up stories in this collection and I liked all three. Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series and the guest characters are voiced by their Batman: TAS counterparts. I enjoyed seeing Batman and Superman work together, and their mutual relationship was well done. We also get to see Lois fall for Bruce Wayne, whom she discovers is Batman. I thought that was a bold choice, and something different.

Superman: The Animated Series also featured several impressive guest stars including: Mike Farrell (as Jonathon Kent), Michael Ironside (as Darkseid), Malcolm McDowell (as Metallo), Edward Asner (as Granny Goodness), Charles Napier (as General Hardcastle), Robert Hays, Robert Ito, Carl Lumley, Roddy McDowell, William H. Macy, Robert Morse, Michael York, John Rubinstein, Charlie Schlatter, Jason Priestley, Sarah Douglas, Richard Moll, Paul Williams, David Warner, Ernie Hudson, Carolyn Seymour, Ron Glass, and Marion Ross, and as mentioned from the Batman crossover episodes: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, and Bob Hastings. As with other Timm-verse shows – the casting is extremely impressive on Superman: The Animated Series.

Overall, though I have some issues with the perfect nature of the character of Superman, I find that this series brings the comics to life so to speak. Because it’s animation, the budget is less limited than in a live-action series, and we see Superman in space, huge fight scenes, and impressive story-telling. Superman: The Animated Series is recommended. This particular set consists of discs that have not been labeled consecutively. Also, every other disc is a two-sided disc. And the final disc has one special feature on it and that’s it – no episodes. I would have preferred it if they had remastered everything, putting eight episodes per disc and not doing any two-sided discs, even if that had increased the number of discs and making the set more expensive. I did like the single case with flip pages to hold the discs and slipcase packaging though. Even with the mastering issue, the episodes themselves look good and I recommend this series, especially to Superman fans.

Book Review – Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us

  • Title: Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artists: Brett Booth, Kenneth Rocafort, V Ken Marion, Minkyu Jung, Norm Rapmund, Mick Gray, Andrew Dalhouse, Dan Brown, Blond, Josh Reed, Travis Lanham
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Tempest (Garth), Omen (Lilith), Arsenal (Roy Harper), Bumblebee (Karen Duncan)
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/04/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us picks up where volume 2 left off. Omen is at a prison, interviewing Psimon. Psimon “reads” Omen and insists the Titans are falling apart thanks to jealousies and other “teen” problems. Psimon also tells Omen that something dark is coming and she’s the one responsible for it, she’ll bring total destruction. But Omen turns the tables and pulls out the information she needs – the location of Bumblebee’s stolen engram (memories). Psimon is shocked that Omen is a stronger psychic than himself and that she was able to project what she wanted to him.

The Titans organize an attack on an H.I.V.E. stronghold in Delaware, but the engrams have been moved and they are attacked by Endgame – an H.I.V.E. scientist and soldier who has the power to add superpowers at will, the powers stolen by Meta Solutions. After a big fight, the Titans defeat Endgame, but they are unable to find Bumblebee’s engram.

After their failure to help Bumblebee get her memories back, the Titans realize there is a traitor in their midst. Nightwing, however, has some tech that will scan each of them for subconscious or conscious spying that he got from Spyral. The catch is it will take two days to scan everyone and get the results. There’s a certain amount of mistrust – but everyone agrees. Mal Duncan, Bumblebee’s husband, meanwhile looks up an old friend to try and find his wife’s engram. And while everyone is waiting, Omen sees Psimon a second time. Yet again he insists she’s an omen of destruction.

When the results come back – they are shocking, the traitor is … Dick Grayson. But it turns out that Gizmo put some spyware on Nightwing’s uniform suit, which he tracked back to Titan’s Tower, which is how H.I.V.E. knew they were coming. Dick is able to ping back the signal to track it. But this doesn’t stop the Titans from revealing a lot of secrets about just who is falling in love with who.

The Titans set off again. Nightwing is “killed” but Wally rewinds time to save his friend. Wally, who has been having heart trouble since the Lazarus Contract affair, then is killed in the fight, or so everyone thinks. Mal and his friend, Gnarrk have been taken over by Psimon, the Key, and Twister – the stress, and the Flash’s death result in an alternate dimensional doorway being opened. The deadly being that steps through isn’t Omen, though – it’s “Troia” a future, evil version of Donna Troy. The Titans try to fight her off. Donna goes through a crisis of faith, so to speak. She keeps arguing with herself (literally) but doesn’t want to accept that this evil Amazon-killer is herself. Fortunately, the other Wally West, Kid Flash, shows up. Wally had felt a disturbance in the force, Speed Force, that is, when Wally (Flash) died. But Kid Flash can tell Wally isn’t completely dead, just stuck in the Speed Force. Kid Flash zaps him and Wally recovers. This boosts the team spirit of the Titans. When Psimon tries to overcome Bumblebee by returning her memories, it has the opposite effect. Bumblebee remembers who she is, she remembers Mal, and she remembers her child – so she’s able to break the psychic hold over Mal and he tries to fight on the Titans side, despite having no powers. Donna Troy fights Troia and sends her back through the dimensional gateway, and the Titans are all OK. The Titans also re-capture Psimon, the Key, and Twister.

Although I liked that this volume of Titans focuses on team dynamics, the “one of us is a traitor” trope is one of my least favorite because of course, it’s going to turn out the “traitor” isn’t really a traitor. This volume also includes the “teammate is dead, nope he’s alive, nevermind” trope which drives me nuts. If you’re going to have someone die in comics – have it mean something. Everyone does react to Wally’s “death” – it’s what causes Donna to actually listen to Troia, but it’s also painfully obvious it isn’t a real “death”. There have been real deaths in comics or at least deaths that lasted a long time before a new generation of writers brought the character back (Jason Todd and Hal Jordan come to mind) so it can be done, but when someone is dead for five minutes and then quickly “gets better” it’s meaningless.

Most of this book is fight scenes. They are well-choreographed, and Donna’s verbal arguments with herself are well done. But I prefer a bit more characterization and character interaction.

Still, with all that, Titans offers up a solid story, interesting characters, and good character interaction. I recommend this series and this volume in particular.