Book Review – Trinity vol. 1: Better Together

  • Title: Trinity vol. 1: Better Together
  • Author: Francis Manapul
  • Artists: Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Brad Anderson, Steve Wands
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Wonder Woman (Diana), Lois Lane, Jon Kent
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/30/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I read Trinity twice, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are some parts that are a bit confusing, especially at first, but it’s a wonderful story – about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The story opens with a monologue by Lois Lane who is now married to Clark Kent and the two are raising their son, Jon. Bruce Wayne and Diana arrive at their farm house. Young Jon experiments with his powers, which he can’t quite control. Next, he’s in the barn, Jonathan Kent is unconscious on the floor, young Jon is freaking out, and Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman arrive in their costumes. Jon flies off. The costumed heroes save Jonathan then go after young Jon. They find him, and later, Superman begins to wonder what just happened, though he’s happy to have seen his parents again.

Next, is Bruce’s story – he’s too late to see his parents before they die, or to prevent the horrible events of That Fateful Night. He sees a counselor, who gives him some medication to control his fears. This causes horrible, frightening hallucinations. Superman, adult Batman, and Wonder Woman have to save Bruce. By this point everyone is getting suspicious.

Next, Wonder Woman takes a boat, with Bruce and Clark, to Themyscira. By now, the three, including Wonder Woman, know nothing that is happening to them is real. The Amazons test the three, and they pass their tests. Hippolyta offers “Wonder Woman”, as she introduces herself, the chance to stay, but says the two men must leave. Diana decides she must go with her friends. Meanwhile, young Diana, is incensed at this and follows them, then begins to lead them through. They discover that Mongul, under the influence of the Black Mercy is behind everything. However, he had contacted Poison Ivy, Avatar of The Green, whom he manipulated to help him escape. The third person that is behind the dreamworld is the White Mercy – something created by Mongul’s need to escape and his boredom. The White Mercy, who appears as a child, appears to Poison Ivy as a child – she wants to use Superman to free her “daughter” the White Mercy. Mongul wants to escape the dream world of the Black Mercy. Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are caught in the thrall and dream world of the Mercy plants. Ivy even goes after young Jon. However, though, basically a construct, the White Mercy learned from the three scenarios he had Clark, Bruce, and Diana experience. In the end, he helps them escape the dream world. Mongul is returned there, Ivy forgets everything, including her “daughter”, and the White Mercy? It may have escaped to the real world.

This is a beautiful book – the art is gorgeous, with a marvelous painted look. The panels reflect the characters, as well, forming the famous symbols for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman at times. Though at times it was hard to tell what order to read the panels in. All three interwoven stories really explain and stress the strengths of Bruce, Clark, and Diana. It’s a great book and deserves a spot on any DC Comics fan’s shelf. Highly recommended.

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Book Review – Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

  • Title: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
  • Author: Jill Thompson
  • Artist: Jill Thompson
  • Characters: Wonder Woman
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 1/14/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Wow, just wow. This graphic novel blew me away. It is myth. It is fable. It is a beautiful story – beautifully written, beautifully illustrated. Just… Do yourself a favor and run to your local comics shop and get a copy then read it – you won’t be disappointed. This book is written and illustrated by a woman – Jill Thompson.

This story gives us the reader the background of the Amazons from soldiers of Hera to their war with men who are jealous of their abilities, to their “rescue” by Poseidon, and gift of their new home of Themyscira. There, the Amazons build civilization dedicated to art, culture, learning, and athletics. The women are happy and satisfied with their lives but the Queen, Hippolyta, wants a child. Every night she makes a baby out of sand on the shoreline and sings to it a lullaby. This leads to intervention by mermaids, Poseidon, and even the gods themselves, resulting in the child being given life. Hippolyta names her Diana.

Diana is loved by all, especially her mother. She is doted on – and, as with many children, she is spoiled, indulged, and given no limits. Diana grows up but never quite learns the consequences of her actions. Well…

This is myth, it is fable, you may suspect their would be a lot of foreshadowing of tragedy to come. And though there will be tragedy, the story doesn’t constantly hint at it – there’s a bit of undercurrent that things may not go well – but there’s no constant over-foreshadowing. Soon the time comes for the Commemorative Games remembering the Amazons’ war with men. The women compete anonymously, and Diana enters the competition – hoping to impress the simple stable girl who is the one person on the Island not impressed with her. During the games, Diana begins to learn she isn’t quite as good as she thinks – and has to work to win, rather than it coming easy to her. And then, through her own decisions, and lack of forethought – tragedy strikes. It is a disaster – and I’m not going to spoil it by going into details. But every great myth, and every great superhero story has at it’s origin a personal tragedy in the life of it’s hero – Why should Wonder Woman be any different? Superman lost his planet (something that also happened to The Doctor in the new version of Doctor Who); Batman lost his parents; The Flash lost his mother; heck even Spiderman lost his Uncle and adoptive father. It’s part of the superhero trope. Yet Wonder Woman’s origin usually has her choosing to leave Themyscira as escort to a crashed pilot – at least in the versions of the story I know. I was much, much more happy with the version of Wonder Woman’s origins. And it hit home – thus the fable description of this brilliant story.

Anyway, so there’s tragedy. (Not going to spoil it here – read the book!) Hippolyta, to give the Queen credit, realizes she cannot protect her daughter, or even make excuses for her, and she asks the other Amazons how to punish her. The shouts from the very angry crowd (and make no mistake – they have reason to be angry, and though you could describe what Diana did as “an accident” technically – it’s the type of accident that she should have thought about and thus not done in the first place – this is one case where the heroine has agency and makes a really bad choice – because of her background and her lack of thinking about possible consequences) range from “kill her” to “burn her” to “destroy her face” to “crush her legs”. It’s brutal. In the end, Hippolyta chooses to exile her own beloved daughter. She dresses Diana first, so the uniform we know so well, with one addition (also evocative of mythology) becomes not something of triumph, or something “honoring” a foreign nation, but rather a constant reminder of her mistakes. That scene alone is beautiful, haunting, tragic, and real. Diana’s journey has just begun and it will be one of atonement.

But for all this talk of tragedy, the book ends on a beautiful note of hope as well. The ending pages of the book are all about hope. And that is a valuable thing.

This book was listed in the Top 25 essential DC Graphic Novels, the only Wonder Woman story to make the cut, I think – though DC’s Novice’s Guide to Graphic Novels (Essential Graphic Novels) has a Wonder Woman section which also lists this novel. It’s an excellent story, something that can be read by children, teens and adults alike. It is empowering for girls, but something boys can learn from too – like the best of stories. And it’s a book that even if one isn’t a fan of graphic novels or comics is worth reading. Because it is beautifully written, the art is gorgeously painted, and it’s just a brilliant, brilliant story. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book!

Book Review – Infinite Crisis

  • Title: Infinite Crisis
  • Author: Geoff Johns
  • Artist: Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, Dick Grayson, Power Girl (Kara), Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Wonder Woman, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/31/2016

Infinite Crisis is a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, however it doesn’t bring back the Monitor or the Anti-Monitor. Rather, remember the characters who were stranded in nowhere? Superman from Earth-2, Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy? They return to cause havoc. It seems Superman (2) and company could watch what is happening on Earth-1 and they do not like it one bit. Having seen the darkness in our heroes – Superman (2) gets a bright idea – he will bring back Earth-2 instead, because Earth-2 is the better Earth. Superman (2) is also motivated by the fact that Lois is dying (of old age). Alexander Luthor encourages Superman in this plan – though he also shows his true colors, as it plays out – Luthor doesn’t care about Lois (he knows she’s doomed to die) or Earth-2, he wants to bring back all the Earths until he finds the perfect Earth. Meanwhile Superboy is pure nuts. His violence disillusions everyone.

The first thing the alternate characters do is bring in Kara, Power Girl, a version of Supergirl that no longer has a home planet, because she’s from Earth-2 but survived on Earth-1 at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara although initially under the sway of Superman (2) and Lois – eventually comes around.

Superman (2) visits the Earth-1 Batman and tries to convince him that bringing back Earth-2 is best for everyone. Yet, when he learns that Dick Grayson no longer exists on Earth (2), Batman refuses. He even tries to bring down Superman with his Kryptonite ring, but the ring has no effect on the Earth-2 Superman. Later, in one of the best vignettes in the story, when the Brotherhood of Evil uses Chemo to attack Blüdhaven – destroying the town with toxic waste, Batman rushes to find Nightwing. Nightwing wasn’t in the city, fortunately, but he stands on the outskirts ready to rush in to help. Batman prevents Dick from going in, brings him to the Cave where he fills him in on everything: Superman (2)’s plan, Brother Eye, OMAC, how Batman’s own surveillance plan went horribly awry – Grayson is impressed at Bruce’s openness. Bruce then gives Nightwing a mission, something to keep him occupied. As Dick Grayson heads out to Titans Tower – Bruce asks, “Those early years – were they good for you?” Nightwing answers, “the best”. It’s a wonderful moment, tightly written, not overly sentimental – yet it shows how much Bruce cares for Dick. Probably the best page in the book.

In general, though, Infinite Crisis is a big, showy book, that again features most of the DC characters. There are many full-page or double-page spreads filled with heroes and even villains. But the plot, not including the miscellaneous side plots, is simple – those left behind from Crisis on Infinite Earths want to return to the status quo. If Earth-1 is destroyed in the process, they don’t care – the old way is best. For our heroes on Earth-1, many have been in a crisis of conscience. After Maxwell Lord betrays the Justice League and kills Ted Kord (Blue Beetle), Wonder Woman executes Max. This shakes up the League and leads to distrust of the League by the general public. But the new Crisis brings Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman back together. In the end, this book has a more final ending – if a bit of a predictable one. But our heroes are together and strong as they pull together to face a world-bending, well, crisis.

Overall, I liked this book better than Crisis on Infinite Earths, though I enjoyed both. And the art is very spectacular. For the DC fan, this book isn’t to be missed and deserves a place on the shelf.

Book Review – Crisis on Infinite Earths

  • Title: Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Author: Marv Wolfman
  • Artist: George Pérez
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2001 (this edition), first published 1985
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/12/2016

Crisis on Infinite Earths is big, really big, you might think it’s a long walk down to the chemist’s but… No wait, that’s The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but nevertheless this graphic novel is huge. It is really big – in every sense. It’s 364 pages – not including the introduction or the final analysis/review and the sketchbook at the end. Not only is it a lot of pages, but the art style and layout of Crisis on Infinite Earths include many small panels almost crammed onto the individual pages – rather than four or two or a single splash page there are often 9, 11, 14, small panels per page – the effect isn’t that the art is crowded or hard to follow – it’s that there’s so much going on simultaneously that multiple panels are needed to even give a glimpse of the story. This novel is a breathless read.

The story is also huge in every way that a good superhero comics story can be. It features just about every DC superhero – from all the various alternate Earths in the pre-Crisis universe. Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, Earth S – those and more are all here – as are their heroes. Every hero from the known (Superman (two of them), Wonder Woman (two of her too), Batman, Aquaman, etc.) to the obscure (Bwana Beast, The Question, Rip Hunter, various magic-users, etc.) is here – at least briefly. And the teams are here too – from the World War 2 Era Freedom Fighters to Doom Patrol, the Justice Society to the Justice League of America, The Green Lantern Corps to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Amazingly, this doesn’t get confusing or overwhelming – the book is skillfully-written to give you at least a name or affiliation for each character, as well as usually defining their powers.

The actual story had a very pragmatic purpose – the DC Universe had gotten very confusing. When you’ve been around since 1932 – that’s bound to happen. And the creative folks at DC were feeling a bit confined by trying to keep everything in continuity or declare a story an “Elseworlds” or “Imaginary Story” (DC’s parlance for alternate universe stories and stories outside the main continuity.) The creatives at DC felt their universe was also intimidating to new readers. Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC’s plan to simplify. Not to quite go back to a clean slate or change everything – but to create a new starting point. Yet for something that had a practical purpose, it’s just an amazing roller coaster ride of a story. It moves. It has sad bits. It has humor. It has moments that will make you gasp. And it the end, it does what was promised: some will live, some will die, the DC Universe will never be the same.

I started with reading DC Comics immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths – so I didn’t read it in softcover. And it took a long time for this story to be published as a graphic novel. This was my second reading (the first was when I bought it whenever that was) and I was even more impressed. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a “wow” graphic novel. It’s amazing. And it’s something any comics and graphics novel fan needs to read. This novel didn’t just change things at DC – it changed the comics industry forever by showing that a long, complicated, cross-over story that actually changed things could be done and could be both successful and popular. Not to be missed.

Book Review – The World of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman

  • Title: World of Flashpoint featuring Wonder Woman
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artists: Tony Bedard, David Beaty, James Robinson, Andy Lanning, Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Eddie Nunez, Javi Fernandez, Scott Clark
  • Line: Stand Alone Graphic Novel
  • Characters: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Lois Lane
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/03/2016

**Spoiler Alert** Whereas other volumes in the “World of Flashpoint” series have contained four separate stories, The World of Flashpoint featuring Wonder Woman consists of four much more closely related stories. The first two feature Wonder Woman and Aquaman, respectively, so we see the war that is tearing apart the world from both perspectives. The third story explains how Lois Lane, reporter, ends up in the UK working for the Resistance. The final story features an odd villainous character known as The Outsider.

In the Wonder Woman story, Princess Diana meets King Arthur of Atlantis – and the two plan a royal wedding as a way to merge their kingdoms for the betterment of the world. Diana even offers to let the marriage be one of convenience and appearances only – allowing Arthur to be with Mera his love. But unfortunately for them, and the world at large, Prince Orm, Arthur’s brother has Diana’s mother killed during the wedding. Orm and Penthesilea, Diana’s aunt, even frame Arthur’s ward, Garth for the crime. This starts the war between Atlantis and Thermyscira.

Every time one side or the other proposes peace or even seems to think of ending the war – either Orm or Penthesilea does something to blame the other side, to make the situation worse, and to continue the war – with hapless humanity in the crosshairs between the two titans of Atlantis and the Amazons. Aquaman sinks half of Europe when his wife, Mera, is killed during a peace conference in Vienna – unaware that it was Orm who killed her. In retaliation, at Penthesilea’s suggestion – the Amazons destroy Thermyscira, then invade the UK and raise it to new heights, towering above both the ocean and Europe at the cost of millions of lives.

Finally, Diana discovers that Penthesilea has been torturing and experimenting upon the humans she’s captured and put in concentration camps – in addition she’s also working with Orm to promote war. Diana is angered by what she discovers and goes to explain all to Arthur, exposing the manipulation for what it is. Arthur, to his credit, does actually believe her – until his entire fleet is blown up (by Orm – but he doesn’t know that). Aquaman becomes determined to make Wonder Woman pay for her final betrayal.

The Aquaman story also tells in flashbacks the story of Arthur’s early beginning – how his father met AtLanna, his mother, and how later he was stolen away to Atlantis to be the prince.

By showing the war from both Diana’s point of view and Arthur Curry’s point of view – the reader is able to really understand the conflict and see exactly what has brought Wonder Woman and Aquaman to their positions of destroying the world. That the two had wanted to join together to be a force for peace, for good, for enlightenment, and for making the world a better place – only to have that plan snatched away by “warriors” who only understand destruction and only want war – makes the story that much more tragic. Diana and Arthur could have brought about a “Golden Age” – instead Orm (whom DC comics readers know as “Ocean Master” one of Aquaman’s deadliest foes) and Penthesilea decide that war is “better” than peace, that as “warrior cultures” supporting peace and a better world is “the coward’s way”, etc. They practically accuse Diana and Arthur of “singing Kumbaya and growing flowers”. If this sounds familiar it should. The real villains here aren’t Aquaman and Wonder Woman for all the completely terrible things they do and the deaths they cause. The real villains are Orm and Penthesilea who manipulate two great cultures into a war – and cause the deaths of millions. Orm and Penthesilea call themselves cowards and also call Diana and Arthur weak “peacemongers” – but it is the two traitors who are weak. They are the ones who lack the vision of a better world.

“Lois Lane and the Resistance” starts with Lois on the phone with Perry White from Paris Fashion Week complaining about doing fluff pieces rather than real reporting. Well, be careful what you wish for, because Lois is right there when Paris and half of Europe are flooded. Lois sees Jimmy Olsen get killed and is transported to the former UK by the Amazons, but not before discovering that the “camera” Jimmy gave her before being swept away was actually made by Cyborg and was a link allowing Jimmy to report in as an agent. Lois agrees to work for Cyborg. Lois’s diary as a prisoner of the Amazons shows just how horrifying the conditions are. Yet it’s Lois who exposes Penthesilea to Wonder Woman who didn’t know what her Aunt is doing. Lois makes a desperate broadcast from the prison. She’s then rescued by the Resistance, led by Grifter (who looks a lot like Red Hood in costume, but remember Jason Todd is a priest in Gotham), and including Lady Godiva, Britannia, Canterbury Cricket and Hyde. Despite a betrayal by Hyde’s alter ego, Bobbie Stephenson a woman who’s gone over to the Amazons to be cured of Hyde, the Resistance and Lois are able to get Britannia her Mark 2.0 battle suit. Lois’s story ends with her broadcasting what’s going on, and the Resistance fighting the Furies (Wonder Woman’s most deadly troops).

“The Outsider” is the most unusual story in the collection. “The Outsider” is from India, yet his skin is greyish-white and looks like stone. He’s an unsavory businessman with his hands in every illegal business there is, and a manipulator of currencies, raw materials, jewels, metals, and just about everything else. He has no qualms about killing to get what he wants. He’s pretty much as evil as Lex Luthor, with none of the “charm”, and works on a global scale. The story also mentions Blackout, whom “The Outsider” want to use as a power source for India, Black Atom – now the ruler of Pakistan, and an awesome surprise – J’onn J’onzz – the Martian Manhunter, and The Outsider’s plaything who strikes back. It’s a surprising story, but though it’s told from The Outsider’s perspective he’s an utterly unempathetic character who one cannot identify with, even with his background explained.

The World of Flashpoint featuring Wonder Woman is the one Flashpoint novel you must read if you only read one of the extra novels – it gives the deepest background for Flashpoint and takes place directly before that story. Although the Flash isn’t in the novel at all, it sets the stage and explains what is going on and what this world is that Barry has woken up in. Highly, highly recommended.

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.

Free Comic Book Day 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017 was Saturday May 6th, 2017. I went with a friend of mine and we arrived probably around 11:00 am. So there was a long line that wrapped around the corner. However, it was still an excellent event. There were cosplayers, and Vault of Midnight, my local comics shop, had their side walk activity area with vendors, artists, and kids activities. This year there was even a food truck! Once inside the store was less packed solid than last year – making it even easier to get to the free comics on the back wall as well as to look around the store for other items to purchase. This year we were allowed to choose four free promo books. I also picked-up my weekly pull list comics and inquired about a Doctor Who graphic novel that was missing from my collection. It is to the credit of the excellent staff at Vault of Midnight that even as busy as they were, they were still willing to check on a special order for me.

On to the comics, this year I picked-up four free comics, all tie-ins by chance. I picked up: Titan’s Four Doctors FCBD event issue; IDW’s Star Trek the Next Generation Mirror Broken; Archie Comics Betty and Veronica (a tie-in to Riverdale, somewhat), and DC’s Wonder Woman.

I’m going to start by discussing Wonder Woman. I picked this free promo comic up thinking it would be a tie-in to this Summer’s Wonder Woman movie. However, I was a bit disappointed because it’s actually a re-print of Wonder Woman Rebirth #1, which I have already read. In fact, Wonder Woman has been on my pull list since Rebirth started. Also, with two volumes of Wonder Woman Rebirth available in graphic novel format – it’s probably something that a lot of people have read since it’s included in the first Wonder Woman Rebirth Graphic Novel. That’s the negative. The positive is – I re-read the comic anyway and I really enjoyed it. As much as I enjoy Rebirth, and I do, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow have been the hardest lines for me to “get in to” so to speak. I finally dropped Green Arrow (I applaud the extremely brave social commentary of Green Arrow – but I found I couldn’t connect to Oliver and it always ended-up at the bottom of the stack when I was reading my books.) Wonder Woman is also teetering on the edge of being dropped from my pull – though I’d probably get the graphic novels instead. With two completely different storylines, Wonder Woman is really hard to follow month to month, especially if one isn’t that familiar with her storyline and background in the comics. But having said all that, I re-read this, the first issue of Wonder Woman Rebirth, and I found I really enjoyed it. Having read the bi-weekly book for about a year, I had a slightly better idea what was going on. If you haven’t read the new Wonder Woman, I do recommend it, I just feel the graphic novels are an easier format for enjoying the stories.

Betty and Veronica I picked up as a tie-in to Riverdale, the new series on the CW that’s based on Archie Comics. This story was fun, and full of surprises. It’s narrated by J. Farnsworth Wigglebottom III (a.k.a Hot Dog) Jughead’s dog. The dog speaks directly to the audience and is amusing and fun as he both narrates and comments on the action. Wigglebottom even “eats” two pages of the comic and then has Betty and Veronica giving exposition instead – in swimsuits. There’s a fair amount of humor in the book too. The story involves a national coffee chain buying out and closing down Pop’s the diner where the kids hang out. Betty is angered by this and rallies everyone to save Pop’s. When she discovers that Veronica’s father owns the coffee company, and the bank that holds Pop’s mortgage, Betty explodes at Veronica – and the issue ends there. The back of the book includes informative advertisements for Archie Comics, including the “new Archie”, and a Riverdale tie-in. There are also character portraits from Riverdale. Overall, I enjoyed this. The story is somewhat basic, one of the characters even comments that threats of Pop’s closing seem to happen a lot. But the breaking of the fourth wall, and the humor, make this an enjoyable read. Betty and Veronica and the other newer Archie comic books make for an excellent comic for teens and children, filled with Americana and a slightly old-fashioned bent.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken is a return trip to the Next Gen Mirror Universe. This story follows Lt. Barclay’s Mirror Universe double. I have always like Lt. Barclay and his Mirror Universe counterpart is tough, capable, and definitely shaped by the circumstances of his universe. In the Mirror universe, the Empire is breaking down, having suffered catastrophic wars with the Klingons and the Cardassians – Spock’s era of reform is over, resulting in an even more ruthless attitude within the Terran Empire – or what’s left of it. Assassination is still the only means of advancement, something we forget as we see Barclay contemplating getting out of engineering and into a “better” life. I liked the focus on a single character with basically a concluded story in this promo book. It’s also a good intro to the ST:TNG Mirror Universe comic, and the write-up for that series promises to be very character-focused, introducing a character per issue before any major plot. That’s the type of writing I like in comics – focus on character, and character interaction as well as world-building. The plots should always add to this. But when mere “action” takes over, without character being explored – the stories can fall flat. This issue of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Universe comic emphasizes character, and a relatively minor one at that (Barclay) and I enjoyed it. The last pages of the book explain three other available series from IDW, with three sample pages of each one. They are Star Trek – Boldly Go, which follows on from the reboot Star Trek films, taking place just after Star Trek Beyond. The second is Star Trek / Green Lantern. And the third is, Star Trek – Waypoint. Star Trek – Waypoint is an anthology series featuring all the various versions of Trek, though the sample issue seems to be set in a future version of Trek (Data has been uploaded to the Enterprise and is now the ship’s computer, though he projects holograms of himself to various duty stations.) all three of these series looked pretty good, and I actually plan on looking for a graphic novel version of the ST/GL crossover series. The art in this book (and the sample pages) is also very good, with a lovely painted look that’s has a dark undertone that’s appropriate for the Mirror universe. The color palettes for the sample pages fit the various versions of Trek they represent. If you are a Star Trek fan, check out IDW’s comic series – you won’t be disappointed, I think.

Doctor Who – The Promise (Four Doctors, FCBD 2017) begins, appropriately enough with teh Twelfth Doctor and Bill running on an alien planet. They find an ancient temple and enter, using YMCA as the visual key lock. The Doctor locates a fob watch, but it’s broken. He and Bill tell the local aliens a story and prevent a civil war. In the TARDIS, Bill asks the Doctor to tell her the real story and he tells her about his friend, Plex. The story flashes back to when the Ninth Doctor has to break the bad news to the hermit, Plex, that his entire planet has been destroyed. Plex then reveals to the Doctor he’s producing clones from his own stem cells and siphoned Time Lord Arton energy. The Tenth Doctor visits Plex when he dies, where he sees a hologram from his friend, who sends him to the planet of the clones. The Tenth Doctor has t “fixing” the overly deferential nature of the race of alien clones. The Eleventh Doctor awakens Plex, who becomes the leader of his re-united planet. Though as the Twelfth Doctor tells Bill, he’s afraid the society will break down again. This is a pretty good story, though it’s a bit hard to follow at times, since the different Doctors visit Plex at different times in his life – and nothing occurs in linear order. The back of the promo book includes a very handy catalog of Titan’s various Doctor Who graphic novels and specials. The art is excellent, and colorful in this book.