Kate’s Review: “The Lost Boys (Vol.1)”

33252331Book: “The Lost Boys (Vol.1)” by Tim Seeley, Scott Godlewski

Publishing Info: Vertigo, August 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: In this follow-up to the 1987 cult classic film, horror masters Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski wade into the bloody, badass world of California vampires for an all-new tale of thrills, chills, and good old-fashioned heart-staking action in THE LOST BOYS VOL. 1!

Welcome to scenic Santa Carla, California. Great beaches. Colorful characters. Killer nightlife. And, of course, all the damn vampires.

The Emerson brothers (Sam and Michael) and the Frog brothers (Edgar and Alan) learned that last part the hard way–these underage slayers took on the vampire master Max and his pack of punked-out minions, and drove a stake right through their plans to suck Santa Carla dry. After scraping the undead goo off their shoes, they figured everything was back to normal.

But now there are new vamps in town.

A coven of female undead called the Blood Belles has moved in, and they’ve targeted Sam, Michael, the Frog Brothers, and every other vampire hunter in Santa Carla for bloody vengeance.

It’ll take every trick in the brothers’ monster-killing book to stop these bloodsuckers from unleashing an entire army of the damned. And they’ll need help from an unexpected source–a certain shirtless sax-playing savior known only as the Believer!

Do you still believe? Collects #1-6.

Review: Everyone who knows me knows that “The Lost Boys” is one of my very favorite movies of all time. OF ALL TIME. It’s a tongue in cheek, earnest as hell, and in some ways a legitimately creepy vampire movie. I love it so much that this past year my friend Laura (of our “It” video review fame) and I went to a Fantasy/Sci Fi convention cosplaying as Edgar and Allan Frog, the sibling vampire hunters played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander.

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Destroy All Vampires.

So of course when I found out about the comic series that Vertigo created to work as a canonical sequel to that movie after two not so great film ones (though I have to say I kind of love “Lost Boys: The Thirst” because it’s basically just Corey Feldman acting exasperated the whole time), I was over the moon! A continuation of one of my favorite vampire tales, all in comic form? Hell yes! I started it in comic form but then just decided to wait for the trade collection, and when it finally came in at the library I snatched it up and dove right in.

One thing that struck me right away is that Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski struck the proper tone that the movie had. It continues to have the earnestness and charm that the original had, and all of the characters feel in character and true to how they should be. It gives a good balance to the man characters, and gives a little more focus to the Frog Brothers, which is a-okay by me. Sam and Michael are still centered as the protagonists, but the spotlight is more equally distributed between the players. It also gives a little more gender equity to this universe, as there are actual honest to goodness female vampires in this called The Blood Belles. Unlike Star (more on that in a bit), the girl vampire from the movie, The Blood Belles are aggressive and formidable villains, with their own motivations and personalities that give ladies more to do this time around. They are a gang that lives up to the previous vampire villains, which was a true relief not only as a fan of the movie, but as someone who resents the fact that Star and Lucy Emerson are so passive in the original story. I also appreciated that this comic is partially steeped in pure, unadulterated fan service. Not only do we have The Frog Brothers becoming actual vampire hunters (under the tutelage of Michael and Sam’s Grandpa), there are also some other character returns that I never thought that we’d see. For one, David is back (which is kind of a spoiler, but it happens very early so I’m not going to feel THAT bad about it), and he’s brought back in a feasible way even after being impaled. He also doesn’t shove aside the Blood Belles with his presence, which I was quite worried about. Worry not. These chicks know how to take care of themselves. But the fan favorite return that I was the MOST excited about wasn’t David, or the Frogs, or even the adorable Laddie (more on him later). Nope. It was most definitely the triumphant return of The Saxophone Man.

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I STILL BELIEVE!!!! (source)

And not only is he back, he’s also a rogue vampire killer who calls himself, wait for it…. THE BELIEVER. I screamed my goddamn head off when all of this was revealed. This one off scene of a random band on the boardwalk has given us a treasure of a plot point.

But now I have to address the issues I had with this comic, because issues abound. The first involves the continuity problems. The biggest one was the fact that the little boy and former half vampire Laddie is now living with Sam and Michael now, in spite of the fact there was a milk carton with his face on it in the movie. Someone is looking for Laddie, guys!! You can’t just keep him! So either the Emersons and just prolonging his abduction, or that has been thrown out the window in interest of keeping Laddie there for plot purposes. But the bigger issue I had was with Star. Star is a character that I both love and kind of resent. She’s beautiful and charming, and Jami Gertz plays her so well, but she is so passive and just there to be a vaguely moral center. She’s another half vampire, but doesn’t even get to vamp out once! I had higher hopes that she would have more to do in this one, and at first it seemed like she did (and the reasons I say this I won’t spoil)….. But then she really just ended up being passive and unwilling or unable to act at times she could. AGAIN. They had the chance to redeem Star, or at least give her the credit that was never afforded her, but they still  relegated her to the sidelines again.

The artwork is a fun style, kind of reminding me of “Locke and Key” in the way the people are drawn. The colors pop off the page, and while the characters don’t really look like their inspirations, it kind of gives them a new chance to become their own characters that can evolve beyond the film.

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While I had my qualms, for the most part I had a blast reading “The Lost Boys (Vol.1)”. It feels like a worthy follow up to the classic vampire film, and I really hope that it goes for awhile. I need the Emersons, The Frog Brothers, and all their vampire foes in my life.

Rating 7: A fun follow up to one of my favorite movies. While there were continuity issues and I was frustrated with Star STILL having little to do, as a “The Lost Boys” fan I was pretty pleased with it overall.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Lost Boys (Vol.1)” is fairly new and not included on any Goodreads lists as of now, but I think that it would fit in on “Vampire Books That Don’t Suck”, and “Supernatural (not Superhero) Comics”.

Find “The Lost Boys (Vol.1)” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Review: “DC Bombshells (Vol.4): Queens”

35500613Book: “DC Bombshells (Vol.4): Queens” by Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga (Ill.), Mirka Andolfo (Ill.), and Marguerite Sauvage (Ill.)

Publishing Info: DC Comics, June 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: The explosive creative team of writer Marguerite Bennett (BATWOMAN) and artists including Laura Braga (Witchblade), Mirka Andolfo (Ms. Marvel) and Marguerite Sauvage (Faith) bring an all-new chapter in the acclaimed alternate-history saga inspired by the hit DC Collectibles in DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS VOL. 4: QUEENS.

Technology and terror form an unholy alliance in a world at war, and only the heroines known as the Bombshells can shut it down!

As World War II rages around them, Batwoman, Catwoman and Renee Montoya take a journey to Africa to get help from an old ally: Vixen, Queen of Zambesi and co-founder of the Bombshells.

But they’re not alone. The lethal Cheetah has her claws out, and she’s digging them directly into a forbidden site: the dwelling place of the mechanical gods, whose incredible powers could spell triumph for the Reich and the destruction of all that the Bombshells hold dear.

Now Vixen, her fellow Bombshells founder Hawkgirl and the rest of the squadron must face their biggest threat yet! Can this brilliant but beleaguered African queen count on the support of a fellow royal-Wonder Woman-to turn the tide?

Find out in DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS VOL. 4: QUEENS. This volume contains the debuts of Vixen and Hawkgirl-and the secret origin of the Bombshells! Collecting issues #19-24.

Review: As you all know, I really really REALLY love the “DC Bombshells” series because damn does it give my favorite superheroines something to do. There is something so organically feminist about this series, and it keeps the thrills, action, humor, and pathos balanced out expertly. Seeing some of the best and brightest DC ladies at the forefront is a delight, and whenever a new one comes out I can’t wait to read it. We are now on Volume 4, and after an action packed Volume 3 in which the Nazis were dealt a severe blow by our Bombshells, we’ve moved the action to North Africa and been introduced to Vixen and Hawkgirl! Also mechanical animals and Cheetah, aka the woman who killed Batgirl and Renee’s adopted son Jacon!

I sometimes get worried when new characters get brought into the fold in comics, especially since sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of characters as it is. But with “Bombshells” I am always excited to see which classic heroines will show up next and in what capacity, and Vixen and Hawkgirl were no exception. Vixen (aka Mari) was especially great, as we got to see her stand up to Hitler and steal his dog Blondie, as well as see her in a position of power as the Queen of Zambesi. She and Hawkgirl (who is delightfully tech minded and a very clever inventor) also helped found The Bombshells, so we got to see them interact with the team they created, as well as interact with each other as confidants, partners, and lovers. I think that ultimately the relationships between the women in these stories are the strongest parts of them, and these two fit right in in that regard. I liked seeing more interaction and background between Kate (aka Batgirl) and Renee as they faced their past relationship and the death of Jacon, but I have to admit that I’m kind of not digging the fact that Kate seems to have completely forgotten about Maggie back on the home front. Sure, Batwoman and Renee Montoya have a shared past and a shared pain, but Maggie is Kate’s present.

Speaking of Maggie, we got a fun story back on the homefront with the Batgirls again. I had thought that they were going to be a one-off story, seeing as so much is going on with the Bombshells in Europe, but I really liked seeing them and Lois get some more time to shine. I think that my favorite aspect of it is the way that their presence is handling some familiar storylines. And with that, I give you a

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(source)

I think I mentioned that Harvey (eventually Two Face) Dent was in the previous Batgirls storyline as a mayor who was promoting an “America First” agenda. Well, he eventually got over that and had become an ally to the Batgirls, with self reflection and redemption on the mind. But given that Harvey really does have to turn into Two Face, I braced myself for it, and indeed, it does happen in this collection (won’t say how, but it does). Ever since I read the classic “Long Halloween” story arc, I’ve felt so incredibly bad for Two Face and the road that he takes, and I was worried that it was going to happen here as well. After all, Batman couldn’t help him in that universe, so my hope was slim. But in this one….. he doesn’t take the road to villainy, at least he hasn’t yet. Because while yes, he’s been horrifically scarred and has had something of a fall from grace, The Batgirls have done what Batman never could: they have rallied around him and affirmed that he is still Harvey Dent, imperfect but trying to be better Harvey Dent, and that they are going to support him and be there for him. And it seems that because of this, he’s MAYBE going to stay on the side of good, and remain their ally and friend. Cheesy? Maybe. But I think that it’s also a testament to the power of empathy and understanding towards those who have experienced trauma, something that Batman just couldn’t ever pull off the way that a bunch of awesome ladies can. The last panel of the Batgirls embracing him got me like

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I have so many feels. (source)

But all that said, I was a bit disappointed seeing that the big problem to overcome this time around was a group of mechanized animals from another planet. I liked the Zambesi setting to be certain, but it felt like a whole lot more conflict crammed into a story that is already rife with conflict. Plus, given that it’s more ‘Nazis want to get their hands on otherwordly weaponry’ stuff, it kind of feels like more of the same. The good news is that we get a couple returns here, including Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and Supergirl, all of whom I dearly missed in the last collection. I just wish that we could have seen more Wonder Woman and Supergirl (seriously, Kara was barely in this), before the last fourth of the book.

So while this is the weakest “Bombshells” collection for me so far, it’s still incredibly strong and I can’t wait for the next one. And I think I only have to wait a little while longer for that!! “DC Bombshells”, you still got it!

Rating 8: While I enjoyed the new characters quite a bit and the Batgirls story was heartwarming, I wasn’t totally sold on mechanical animal fights, and wish that Wonder Woman and Supergirl had been in it more.

Reader’s Advisory:

“DC Bombshells (Vol.4): Queens” isn’t on many Goodreads list at this time. But it is included on “Graphic Novels Featuring LGBTQ Themes”, and would fit in on “Female Power Comics”.

Find “DC Bombshells (Vol.4): Queens” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed: “DC Bombshells (Vol 1): Enlisted!”, and “DC Bombshells (Vol 2): Allies”, and “DC Bombshells (Vol.3): Uprising”.

Kate’s Reviews: “Monstress (Vol.1): Awakening”

29396738Book: “Monstress (Vol.1): Awakening” by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (Ill.)

Publishing Info: Image Comics, July 2016

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Review: When I first heard of “Monstress” by Marjorie Liu, I was pretty compelled by the description. Hell, I even put it on one of our Highlights lists last year around the time it came out. The premise definitely sounds like it would be right up my alley: a girl is part of a group of creatures called Arcanics that are oppressed and hunted down after a war, and she is possessed by an ancient monster. And while it was fantasy, a genre that I am very picky about and have very specific preferences in for it to appeal to me, I thought that it sounded enough like ‘dark fantasy’ that it would suit my tastes. Monsters, wars, dark magic and lots and lots of violence, all of these things piqued my interests, and I can say that “Monstress: Awakening” delivers all that and much much more.

Maika Halfwolf is our protagonist, and we meet her just as she is being sold off for experimentation. As a member of the Arcanics, but as someone who can pass for human, she is a hot commodity for her buyer, a woman who is a Cumea. Cumea are sorceresses who absorb the life energy from Arcanics to keep their own power levels up. So right away we are shown the brutal world that Maika and others like her live in, and how it is to be in a society where they are constantly beaten down and treated as less than, so far as to be slaughtered so that others may gain from it. Intricate themes to be certain, and some that I was very pleased to see in this story. It was also really neat to see a group of female protagonists, and very nuanced and complex women at that. Maika, of course, has a lot of sides to herself. She’s violent and driven by a need to avenge her dead mother, Moriko Halfwolf, but she also has moments of compassion and empathy, as well as glimpses into a time period where she wasn’t as jaded and cynical about the world she lives in. We also get to see the power of female friendships in a time of trauma and war, as she forges bonds with a couple of female characters, some part of her new life, others part of her old one. But inside of her is a monster that is hinted at being one of the greatest evils in the history of the world that she lives in. However, it isn’t quite clear just what this being wants yet.

We also get a compelling group of villains within this world that Liu has created. I like the idea of female sorceresses being seen as nun-like, their entire lives devoted to their powers. The hierarchy of power was cool to see, and I liked the very intimidating Inquisitrixes, those sent out to find Maika and her group after she escapes. You also get a sense of the corruption that the Cumea have inside their system. Nothing says feminism to me like having fascinating female villains, and the Cumea are definitely a well rounded set of villains. But the most charming group in this are the cats. Yes, there are cats in this series that have many roles, from sidekicks to warriors to professors, and I really, really enjoyed that.

The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It has influences from manga, steampunk, and art deco styles, and they all meld together to make a sumptuous feast for the eyes of the reader.  I was blown away multiple times by the details that went into it, and how there were so many intricate things inside of the art, from the details on the clothing to the etchings of the backgrounds.

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But, sadly, at the end of the day, I can only give this six stars. And that is because this is definitely a bit too high fantasy for me. But I want to really emphasize that the rating I am giving it is one that I have for it, personally, just because this isn’t really my kind of story. That said, people who really like high fantasy and intrigue to go with their monsters and mayhem would probably like this a lot. In fact, looking at how a few of my friends have rated it, I can safely say that my rating is my own, and that it should NOT deter anyone from reading this if you think that all of these things sound great. Hell, I’m probably even going to keep on going in the series, because I like Maika so much and want to see what is going on with this monster inside of her. And the themes, too, are going to bring me back for more, since feminism, racism, and colonialism can be found in their own ways in this world and are explored very well. Again, fantasy fans, take note of this one. It’s dark and it’s violent, but it’s also gorgeous and will probably completely suck you in.

Rating 6: A little high fantasy for my tastes, but the characters are great and the art is beautiful. The themes that Liu explore are dark and complex, and I think that they really give this story a little more than other series like it may.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Monstress (Vol.1): Awakening” is included on the Gooreads lists “Kickass Women in Superhero Comics”, and “Comics and Graphic Novels by Women”.

Find “Monstress (Vol.1): Awakening” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Reviews: “Everything Is Teeth”

26109143Book: “Everything Is Teeth” by Evie Wyle and Joe Sumner (Ill.)

Publishing Info: Johnathan Cape, August 2015

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: From the award-winning author of All The Birds, Singing, a deeply moving graphic memoir about family, love, loss, and the irresistible forces that, like sharks, course through life unseen, ready to emerge at any moment.

Ever since she was a little girl, passing her summers in the brutal heat of coastal New South Wales, Evie Wyld has been captivated by sharks—by their innate ruthlessness, stealth, and immeasurable power. Young Evie would listen intently as farmers and fishermen told stories about being alone on the water at dusk; she would lose herself in books about legendary shark attacks, mesmerized by the photos of the victims. And even though she returned to London at the end of each summer, Australia’s sharks never released their hold on her imagination. Now, in this quietly penetrating narrative of personal memories, beautifully rendered by illustrator Joe Sumner, Evie Wyld lends her exceptional voice to the telling of a story all her own.

Review: When I was four years old, I discovered sharks. We were on a family trip out to California to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin. They lived in San Jose, but we would take many family trips to the ocean up and down the coastline between San Francisco and Monterey. This meant that there was a lot of driving to be had, and ya gotta find ways to spend the time. My parents bought my cousin, who is a few years older than me, a cassette tape and accompanying book about sharks. It was short and informational, but it did have some kind of creepy music to go with it. Because “Jaws”, probably. Turns out, it was too much for my cousin, who thought that it was way too scary to listen to. My parents, not wanting to waste the thing, gave it to me, four year old Kate, thinking that maybe I’d be able to handle it. And I guess I pulled a full Raffi on them, insisting they play it over, and over, and OVER again the entire trip… And then more when we got back home to Minnesota. And thus, my lifelong love of sharks was born.

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Actual image of my Dad having to listen to that tape for the 63rd time. (source)

So the graphic memoir “Everything is Teeth” by Evie Wyld is so incredibly relatable for me that it was kind of uncanny. Evie Wyld grew up in England and spent family trips in Australia, and she first found her love for sharks when her older brother was given a set of shark jaws for the holidays. She then started reading books about sharks, and shark attacks, her first celebrity crush being Rodney Fox, famed shark attack survivor and conservationist (another thing I can relate to, because I TOO loved Rodney Fox during my most fevered obsession time). But this memoir is a bit different from other graphic memoirs that I’ve read in the past, as instead of having a full linear narrative it’s more a collection of snapshots into her childhood, framed through the shark obsession. But the shark obsession and the anxieties that go with it, of course, speak to deeper childhood fears and worries, from isolation to familial loss. The irrational fear of sharks served as a tangible fear to stand in for the ones that Wyld couldn’t quite articulate at the time, and as a child who was also riddled with anxieties about just about everything, this, too, was a familiar thing to me as I read it.

You don’t get the events in her childhood spoon-fed to you, you have to surmise what is going on. During a viewing of “Jaws”, she recounts how her loving yet somewhat detached father drank glass after glass of wine. After being unable to sleep one Australian night, she and her mother go for a night swim in the pool, as her mother was dealing with one of her regular bouts of insomnia. When her older brother would come home from school bloodied and beaten up, he would come to Evie and ask her to tell him shark stories. We learn about Evie’s family and their pretty common issues, but always with the context of the love of, and fear of, sharks. It’s a quiet story that ultimately unwinds to show how these intangible fears ultimately become tangible as time goes on, and that a fear of sharks disguises a fear of loss that eventually most everyone will experience in their life. It is ultimately a sweet, and sad, story about a girl who comes of age like many do, and her childhood interest in sharks that shapes her along the way, and I found it just as powerful as some of the graphic memoirs I’ve read that deal with childhood trauma or tragedy. There is no specific trauma or tragedy here; it’s just bits of her life, some parts sad, some parts not, all parts incredibly real.

I also liked that even the bits that were sad or upsetting were still muted, letting the reader figure out why. There is a scene where Evie’s Dad takes her to a shark attack museum, thinking that she will enjoy it. What they find is a spectacle, with graphic photos of shark attack victims with no context (just showing Rodney Fox’s wounds, not his calm demeanor or how he persevered), broad brush strokes painting sharks as mindless man eaters, and a stuffed and shabby white pointer, which is Australian terminology for great white, that is decaying on it’s platform. Child Evie is awash with nausea and discomfort, and while it’s never explained why, the reader is as well. Wyld never has to tell you it’s wrong; you just know that it is.

Joe Sumner did the illustrations for this graphic novel, and I really loved his style. He has a huge range from the flat out cartoonish (Evie and her family members), to the more realistic (stills from “Jaws” and pictures of shark attack survivors in the aftermath), to the hyperrealistic that I could have sworn were photographs (almost all the sharks in this book).

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(source)

I was completely struck by this art style and how effective it was.

“Everything Is Teeth” is a very subdued read, but it’s one that struck a chord with me. If you are looking for a graphic memoir that isn’t necessarily steeped in tragedy and trauma, but still packs an emotional punch, it may be the one for you.

Rating 9: A quiet, resonant, and somewhat haunting graphic memoir about growing up, loss, and sharks. The illustrations are great and the story is compelling and relatable.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Everything Is Teeth” is included on the Goodreads lists “Women Creators in Comics”, and “Comics for Teen Girls (That Are Not Japanese Manga)”.  Side note: I’m hoping that this list isn’t intended to diss manga, because there’s nothing wrong with it.

Find “Everything is Teeth” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Review: “Transmetropolitan (Vol.6): Gouge Away”

22422Book: “Transmetropolitan (Vol.6): Gouge Away” by Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson (Ill.), & Rodney Ramos (Ill.).

Publishing Info: Vertigo, February 2002

Where Did I Get This Book: I own it.

Book Description: Despite — or perhaps with the aid of — drugs, drinking, and paranoia, Spider Jerusalem and his filthy assistants are hot on the trail of the horrifying truth behind the newly-elected President’s campaign. Features three stand-alone stories: “Nobody Loves me, “The Walk” and “Dancing in the Here and Now,” and also includes the three-part “Gouge Away” storyline.

Review: I bet some of you were wondering if I had just given up on “Transmetropolitan”. Well guess what? NOPE!! I just took a break from it because, as much as I love it and have really enjoyed re-reading it, it’s both a bit manic and a bit too real for me at the moment, a theme I’ve noted a few times during my re-read. So I just needed some space from Spider, his Filthy Assistants Channon and Yelena, and the ugly world that they live in.

But I have achieved that space and I decided that I was ready to tackle it again. When we left off, Spider had just found out that his story and voice had been squashed thanks to White House interference, and a story about police brutality got swept under the rug. When we join him, Channon, and Yelena again, we see that Spider is still without a voice, and has become something of a joke to the world thanks to propaganda run thanks to The Smiler and the Administration. But is that the kind of thing that’s going to keep a good journalist down? Hell no. So Spider starts to figure out how to get his voice heard again, and starts to hop from source to source and scumbag to scumbag to try and get another strike at The Smiler and the White House. If the last collection left us with despair and fear, “Gouge Away” comes back with a whole lot of hope and tenacity that acts as a catharsis to the nonsense going down in the world today. I liked that we went back and revisited a number of characters that we’ve seen previously, and that they managed to come together and make a pretty satisfying counterstrike that Spider could use in the fight for truth and journalism. I had mentioned that a couple of the previous issues felt like “The Empire Strikes Back”, and this one kind of feels like “Return of the Jedi” at the end. It could have been final. It could have been the end of the series altogether. I don’t know how I feel about how final it felt, knowing that it’s going to go on. But, that said, there are still stories to tell, and maybe there isn’t room for ambiguity in Spider’s world.

But along with the main storyline that we got, I felt that the best part of this collection was the story that was devoted to Channon and Yelena, Spider’s assistants. I think that it could be tempting to give Spider two lady assistants, one of whom he is sleeping with and the other of whom is a walking sex pot, and to just leave them as unexplored characters. But Ellis gives Channon and Yelena their own thing to do that isn’t only about Spider (even if they realize, to their dismay, they ran away from him for a spree but are now talking mostly about him). I love that the two of them have a friendship that exists outside of Spider, and that they play off of each other while acting as each others’ confidants. And really, a girls night with them that involves running away in a taxi, a shopping spree, a gun range, and then stopping a government agent from following them via force, now THAT is the kind of thing I like to see in comic books when it comes to the ladies.

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Source: Vertigo Comics

It’s also welcome and/or upsetting to see The Smiler back on the pages of this story, in his full sociopathic glory. We are given reminders throughout this collection of what he has done in the past, not only to his enemies, but also to his supposed allies. We are reminded of Vita, who was a spin doctor for The Smiler, and was murdered by his campaign just to give him higher approval ratings in the wake of tragedy. Her folk saint status has almost completely exploded with a full on permanent shrine in her memory, and honestly, seeing it made me smile, albeit sadly. Vita is still one of the few people in this series who Spider had a complete reverence for, and it’s very satisfying seeing him slowly but surely take revenge on the man and the campaign who murdered her for votes.

I know that with four more issues there are still parts to be played and conflicts to happen, even if I don’t remember all of them. But it was really nice seeing Spider finally declare all out war against The Smiler, via journalism, integrity, and being a psychotic pain in the ass. Ya can’t help but cheer for him. I am thinking that I may not wait four months to pick up the next collection of “Transmetropolitan”, because I missed it so much.

Rating 8: Though it’s sometimes exhausting to read this series, “Transmetropolitan: Gouge Away” continues a strong and incredibly relevant meditation on the freedom of the press and the signs of fascism in a corrupt system.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Transmetropolitan (Vol.6): Gouge Away” is included on the Goodreads lists “Bibles for the Revolution”, and “Best Graphic Novels and Comic Books”.

Find “Transmetropolitan (Vol.6): Gouge Away” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed:“Transmetropolitan (Vol.1): Back on the Street”“Transmetropolitan (Vol.2): Lust for Life”“Transmetropolitan (Vol.3): Year of the Bastard”“Transmetropolitan (Vol.4): The New Scum”. and “Transmetropolitan (Vol.5): Lonely City”.

Kate’s Review: “DC Bombshells (Vol.3): Uprising”

31624824Book: “DC Bombshells (Vol.3): Uprising” by Marguerite Bennett, Mirka Andolfo (Ill.), and Laura Braga (Ill.)

Publishing Info: DC Comics, March 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Based on the hit DC Collectibles product line! As World War II rages across Europe, the Allied forces issue a call to arms for the greatest heroines the world has ever known! With an old villain arising from beyond the grave, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Kara Starikov, Kortni Duginova and Mera must aid the Allied forces while at home, a brave group of Batgirls must defend the homeland!
The incredibly popular DC Collectibles line is brought to life in these stories that reimagine the course of history! From writer Marguerite Bennett (BATGIRL, EARTH 2: WORLD’S END) and featuring artists including Marguerite Sauvage (HINTERKIND), Laura Braga (Witchblade) and Mirka Andolfo (Chaos) comes DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS VOL. 3.

Review: With the way that the last “DC Bombshells” collection ended (if you’ll remember, it was devastating), I was wondering if we were going to get into more pathos in which we’d have to potentially say goodbye to another of our beloved heroines. I suppose that I should have steeled myself for that possibility from the get go, as this is WWII and with war comes death. And given that our ladies are spread out across various fronts, battling not only Nazis, but also Nazi Zombies, the stakes are pretty high. And we jumped right back into it.

But first, we went back to the home front to check in with the Bat Girls! They’re continuing there time of taking up the mantle for Batwoman while she is overseas, and this time they have a new ally to go along with Maggie Sawyer.

LOIS LAAAAAAAANE!!!!

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It’s her time at the table, folks, so buckle up! (source)

Seeing Lois introduced (and giving her a very interesting backstory that gently but deftly touches on the immigrant experience) was a serious treat for this Lois Lane fangirl. It was also great seeing her jump in without having to worry about needing help from Superman (still nowhere in sight), and helping the Bat Girls break up a crime ring (involving the Penguin!), though they find themselves wanted in the process. Seeing this and a non-Two Face-d version of Harvey Dent going on and on as a political candidate with an “America First” platform made this story feel pretty close to home.

But meanwhile, in Europe, we catch up with our Bombshells on the front lines. We don’t get to see Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or the aftermath of Stargirl’s death this time, but that’s okay by me. I’m not ready to see the fallout from that. But that isn’t to say that we have a lack of stories this time around, as we are juggling a number of story lines. We have Batwoman, leaving Wonder Woman and Stargirl to try and get back to the front lines, who meets up with an old flame, Renee Montoya (aka The Question). They first met during the Spanish Civil War, and fought on the rebel side against the fascists. Now they are teaming up again, in spite of bad memories of losing a young protege and friend named Jacon (YES AS IN JASON TODD I AM SCREAMING) and the end of their love. You have Zatanna, who has been sent to a ghetto because of her Jewish and Romani heritage, and is being tormented by Joker’s Daughter, who has taken away her powers. You have Mera, who has washed up in Ireland without her powers, banished from Atlantis and her rightful throne. And we finally come back to Harley and Ivy, who have become freedom fighters for the resistance, and have found love with each other as they try to make their way to Berlin to take down the Nazis from their home base. And I haven’t even mentioned Huntress, Miri Marvel, Joker, Catwoman, Raven, and Aquaman, who all make appearances as well.

It’s definitely a lot to balance. But Bennett does a really good job of slowly but surely weaving all of these stories together. It was SO lovely to see my girls Harley and Ivy again, and to see how they play into this whole thing. I was wondering how it was all going to fit together, but it does. I was also really relieved that even though we did get a bit more romance with some of the heavy hitting men of the Universe (Aquaman and Constantine, specifically), it didn’t bring down Mera or Zatanna. Even though Mera has found lighthouse keeper Arthur, there is no sign of him having powers that are going to outdo hers as of yet. Their romance is just another part of her as a person, but Mera remains Mera and isn’t distracted from her goal of getting her powers and Atlantis back. The same can be said for Constantine, who is in the ghetto with Zatanna. He is there to support her, but his presence doesn’t weaken her or make her seem like he is her only strength in a horrific situation.

I loved seeing all of these women come together to fight against Joker’s Daughter and the Nazis, and that a number of these women in this story are Jewish or of Jewish descent, as Batwoman, Zatanna, Miri, and Harley all make mention of their heritage while they are inside the ghetto during a shabbat dinner. There was great beauty in this entire moment, as it wasn’t solely a ‘savior’ moment, as these women are also targets because of their heritage. The symbolism was bittersweet, and I really appreciated it. It was also good seeing the concept of abusive and controlling relationships being addressed, and not just in romantic ways. There was a small moment with Harley and Joker as she tells Ivy about her past, but there is also the relationship between Joker’s Daughter and Zatanna, and the relationship between Mera and her former beau. There is also poor Raven, who has only known Joker’s Mother as her mother figure, and is so damaged in her need to please her but also her need to escape. These are things that women in real life have to grapple with, and I so appreciate that this series dares to bring up the toxicity of relationships like these, and contrast them with healthy relationships. Harley finds Ivy. Zatanna finds Constantine. Raven finds a new group of women to mother her. Mera finds Arthur. And they all find more self respect. It’s just so positive!!! I can’t gush about it enough!!

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(source)

There is just so much to love in this series. It continues to be super feminist, it continues to strive for diversity, and it continues to have some awesome action sequences that are just as good as any other superhero comic out there. I am once again sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one in the series (out this fall I think!). While I’m worried that some characters are done, I am excited to see who else could show up.

Rating 10: Once again “DC Bombshells” knocks me off my seat and excites and thrills me until I turn the final page. These ladies continue to kick serious ass!!!

Reader’s Advisory:

“DC Bombshells (Vol.3): Uprising” isn’t on any Goodreads lists as of yet, but given the lists it’s predecessors are on it would fit right in on “#fempowerathon”, and “Amazons, Female Warriors, and Wonder Women”.

Find “DC Bombshells (Vol.3): Uprising” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed: “DC Bombshells (Vol 1): Enlisted!”, and “DC Bombshells (Vol 2): Allies”.

Kate’s Review: “Batgirl (Vol.2): Family Business”

26067583Book: “Batgirl (Vol.2): Family Business” by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher (Ill.), and Babs Tarr (Ill.).

Publishing Info: DC Comics, February 2016

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Like daughter, like father.

Over the past few months, Barbara Gordon has made some big changes to her Batgirl alter ego. She has a new look, new support team and new home base in Burnside, Gotham’s trendiest neighborhood. But just when she’s hitting her stride, her fahter drops a bombshell–Babs isn’t the only masked crime-fighter in the family anymore. Jim Gordon is the new Batman.

After the original Batman fell fighting the Joker, the former police commissioner was given a high-tech super-suit and asked to take up the mantle. With a team of GCPD officers watching his every move, Jim Gordon’s new law-and-order Batman has zero tolerance for vigilantism. He’s been ordered to arrest any unsanctioned superhero in Gotham–and Batgirl is next!

Review: Barbara Gordon, as we all know, has a very special place in my heart. Because of that, I was very excited that I liked the new “Batgirl” storyline that Cameron Stewart brought to the world, but also kind of nervous. What if I liked it, and then it collapsed under it’s own weight? After all, that’s what happened to “Black Canary” in my reading experience. So while I was very eager to pick up “Batgirl (Vol.2): Family Business”, part of me was anxious. I finally sat down and read it, and I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint.

I like how Barbara is progressing. While I was a bit lost regarding her father (ex) Chief Gordon taking up the Batman mantle (I haven’t read any New 52 Batman stories), I liked that we got an interesting shift in power dynamic, with Barbara knowing his secret identity without him knowing hers. Seeing her interact with her father in his Batman form (in a giant robotic suit, no less) was both a little bittersweet, and also a confirmation of both of their personalities; she being stubborn and fervent, and him being willing to bend the rules when deep in his heart he knows he should. This wasn’t the only crossover we got in this book, as Barbara also ran afoul Maps and Olive at Gotham Academy. I’m glad that they didn’t spend too much time there, though, because while it was good for a taste I tend to get a bit weary of crossovers. I do keep up with “Gotham Academy” as best I can, but I don’t think that I should necessarily have to read multiple storylines in the DC Universe to keep up with one title.

We also got a glimpse of Dick Grayson and whatever he is up to right now in the DC Universe. This was probably my least favorite of the crossover storylines, because it was just Dick trying to maintain the facade that he is dead, and hiding from Barbara… Until he decided to jump back into her life on his own terms and expected her to jump back into his arms, no questions asked.

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Grayson, please. (source)

I was happy to see that Barbara didn’t take any of that lying down, and called him out on it and how it’s not romantic, but incredibly hurtful…. But that said, as a person who deeply, deeply ships Batgirl and Nightwing, I was upset to see it go down the way it did. Not only was it sad for them, it just felt shoehorned in, and it distracted from a much happier (and lighter) storyline, which was Alysia and her girlfriend Jo getting married!!! True, the storyline leading up to it was a bit silly (involving tigers mauling people), but the end game was very pleasant. Nice to see that Barbara can still be there for her friends in spite of her life of daring do.

I am also happy to report that it seems that I’m going to be getting my Oracle fix in the very near future!! While Barbara herself won’t be taking this role, there have been hints that Frankie, Barbara’s coder roommate, is going to team up with her and serve as this role. Even if Barbara is reluctant to let her take it on just yet, because of worries to Frankie’s safety. The tension that this brings is a good way to remind us that Barbara, while well meaning, hasn’t quite reconciled that she does, in fact, need help. I think that giving this role to Frankie is perfect, because she’s incredibly technologically adept, and she is there to be a voice of reason to Barbara as well as someone she can confide in. And THIS, I feel, is how to reinvent a character in a comic setting. The transition wasn’t forced and the adjustment felt natural and completely plausible, nor did Barbara have to be humiliated or character assassinated to make it work. If Frankie is, indeed, on her way to becoming the new Oracle, I welcome it with open arms and hope that she gets a lot of cool, research-y things to do.

Overall, a couple of bumps notwithstanding, I was pleased with how the “Batgirl” storyline has been progressing. “Family Business” was a fun and bubbly read. Barbara is still charming and complex, and her adventures will keep me coming back for more.

Rating 8: The re-emergence of a new Oracle and some more fun action and thrills with Barbara made a fun second installment in the new “Batgirl” iteration!

Reader’s Advisory:

“Batgirl (Vol.2): Family Business” is included on the Goodreads lists “Best of Batgirl”, and “Girls Read Comics”.

Find “Batgirl (Vol.2): Family Business” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed: “Batgirl (Vol.1): The Batgirl of Burnside”.