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Batwoman #2 – Review

By J.H. Williams III (co-writer & artist), W. Haden Blackman (co-writer), Dave Stewart (colors), Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: Batwoman continues her investigation of the mysterious Weeping Woman while avoiding the federal agents trying to capture and unmask her.

What’s Good: Good lord this book is beautiful. I know I should expect that, after all the J.H. Williams III I’ve seen–and especially after how much of his Batwoman work I’ve read–but it still drops my jaw every single time I turn one of his pages. There aren’t enough superlatives in the language to discuss this adequately and even if there were, it’d get repetitive very quickly. Suffice to say that this is without question the most beautiful book on the comic shelf right now.

The writing is very good as well. While the script doesn’t quite live up to the astronomic heights set by the visuals, both co-writers continue to capture Kate Kane’s voice perfectly, and that shines through any other minor issues that are present. In the same way that Williams’ artwork carries the storytelling, Kate Kane’s personality carries and drives the script. Although I was quite looking forward to her becoming a part of Batman INC, I love the explanation she gave for being wary of signing up. Batman may be her inspiration, but they clearly have rather different ideas about how their ideals should be acted upon. I love this unexpected mini-conflict, and look forward to seeing how it plays out in the issues to come.

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Witchblade #148 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (artist), Troy Peteri (letters)

Ahead there be (small) spoilers. Consider yerself warned.

The Story Angelus comes in to provide backup when Tiamat proves to be a little too strong for Sara and the Witchblade to handle alone. Lieutenant Phipps continues to make a rather large nuisance of himself, and we also learn that Mr. Marz has not forgotten Tiamat’s mythological lineage as a creature of the sea.

What’s Good: Although I’ve almost always loved Witchblade and Ron Marz’s work on it, this arc has me ready to start a kickstarter campaign just to keep him on the book. Not that a new direction will be a bad thing (and I’m certainly looking forward to an Artifacts ongoing!) but it will definitely be the end of a wonderful era for Sara and company–and I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace that yet.

This issue handles the various plot threads a lot more smoothly than the last one did, which is very nice to see. Although the plot is still moving forward, this issue seems much less cramped. (Bringing in LT Phipps at the end did feel like a bit much, but then again–given the last page–could also help bring a quick and expeditious end to Sara’s issues with Internal Affairs!)

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Captain America & Bucky #622- Review

By Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko (writers), Chris Samnee (artist), Bettie Breitweiser (color artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Back in Word War II, Bucky tries hard to fit in as the only non-super powered member of the Invaders.

What’s Good: Remember all that irritated bellyaching I did about Bucky back when he was in charge of The Shield? While I still don’t love him as Cap, and while I still find that particular storyline not to my liking, I hearby take back everything bad I ever said about him as a character. THIS is a Bucky I care for, and want to learn more about! The brilliant convention in this arc is not simply telling a WW II flashback story, but in having Bucky tell us the story with the benefit of his older and more mature hindsight. This gives us the benefit of a good WW II story and learning a bit more about Bucky’s past and his relationship with Cap while still advancing his current character arc and giving us a direct idea of what meaning this story has for him now. The writing in general is just fantastic, as a matter of fact–THIS is the Brubaker I know and love. I particularly love Namor’s role as the cuttingly sarcastic voice of (quite reasonable, really) skepticism regarding Bucky’s place on a team of super heroes.

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Captain America #3 – Review

By Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve McNiven (pencils), Jay Listen (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production)

The Story: Ameridroid (!) draws Cap out for a battle, while Sharon must contend with Baron Zemo.

What’s Good: We as readers are very lucky that Steve McNiven is penciling this issue. Extended fight scenes (which is essentially what this issue is) can become dull and repetitive very quickly, but thanks to McNiven’s pencils, this ends up being quite a lot of fun. There’s not a whole lot to sink your teeth into in terms of character development (although Steve Rogers does have one very nice moment towards the end, contemplating Ameridroid’s nature), but what this book does provide is the sort of fast and fun action that comics do better than any other medium out there. Brubaker does an excellent job of using the tools at his disposal to create an excellent series of action set pieces that are well paced and a great deal of fun to sit back and take in. The action gives McNiven an excuse to really let lose for the first time in the series as well, which is a pleasure to watch unfold.

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Wonder Woman #1 – Review

By Brian Azzarello (writer), Cliff Chiang (art), Matthew Wilson (colors), Jarred K. Fletcher (letters)

Minhquan Nguyen and I both felt strongly about this book and wanted to give it a review. Rather than publish two separate reviews, we decided to co-author one together. Two opinions for the price of one! Let us know what you think of this format!

The Story: Diana discovers that the gods are up to no good, and its up to her to save the life of a young mortal woman in their sights.

What I liked: Although this issue obviously doesn’t follow the enormous Odyssey storyline in terms of continuity, it feels like it could have from a character standpoint–and that’s a fantastic thing. Odyssey was all about building Diana up as the strong, powerful and compassionate hero we know and love, and that is exactly the Diana that this book delivers. Thank the gods–I’ve missed her a great deal. I love that her first act is defending a woman; it has echoes of The Hiketeia, one of my favorite Wonder Woman stories. Instead of simply standing up to Batman though, here Diana is forced to stand up to the gods and their minions. It is really wonderful to see the pantheon involved so early and directly, and it’s handled so well that I didn’t feel any inkling of longing for Themyscira, Hippolyta, or any of the other traditional trappings of a new Wonder Woman beginning. The script is tightly reigned, with no unnecessary dialog or exposition, and is extremely well directed–whether it was Azzarello’s script, Chiang’s visual storytelling, or a fortunate combination of both elements working in synch, there is not a wasted gesture, action, panel or word to be found in the whole of the book.

Also, can I just say how nice it is to have a Wonder Woman book with a normally sized creative team? Because it is.

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Batman and Robin #1 – Review

By Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)

The Story: Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Robin (his son Damian Wayne) mark the anniversary of Thomas and Martha’s death before being called out to work: someone is attempting to steal nuclear fuel rods from a Gotham power plant. And that someone could prove to be far more dangerous than even that terrifying crime implies.

What’s Good: Although there is clearly a story arc that needs to be set up in this first issue, the key to this #1 for me was in seeing how Tomasi chose to handle the interaction between Bruce and Damian. A great deal has been written about how good the dynamic between Damian and Dick Grayson was (and I agree), so I was very interested to see how the Batman/Robin dynamic would change in the DCnU, and how that would affect the feel of this book.

Aside from a few issues which I’ll discuss below, it actually works quite well. Rather than the old Dick/Damian ‘bright and happy vs. dark and brooding’ clash, the new dynamic duo seem to be establishing an interesting ‘old guard vs. new guard’ competition that has the potential to be very interesting indeed. While I think having Damian essentially disrespect Bruce’s parents might have taken the antagonism factor a bit far for my taste (I found myself wanting to smack him for that, which is not a reaction I’ve had to the character before), it was effective–if not subtle–in establishing where the two characters stand with each other.

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Batwoman #1 – Review

By J.H. Williams III (co-writer & artist), W. Haden Blackman (co-writer), Dave Stewart (colors), Todd Klein (letters)

(Before we get started, for the sake of full disclosure, let me just say:

ITSHEREITSFINALLYHERE!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

We now return to your regularly scheduled, completely impartial review.)

The Story: In a continuity seemingly untouched from the vaunted Detective Comics run, Kate Kane is still dealing with the emotional fallout from discovering the super-villain Alice’s true nature. While this is going on, she must also contend with an urban legend come to life, train a new sidekick, and worry about a new relationship with (another) Gotham detective.

What’s Good: I will fully admit to being terrified when I picked up this book. The expectation and hype riding on this has been huge (albiet well-deserved), and, especially given the loss of scribe extraordinaire Greg Rucka, I just wasn’t sure it could live up to that lightning-in-a-bottle Detective Comics run. Williams’ artwork is undoubtedly what made the run famous, but it always felt to me like Kate herself was very much Rucka’s baby–he’s the one with a penchant for writing both about the military, and strong, well-rounded female characters. While the amazing artwork could certainly continue without him, I would have bet my beloved copy of Detective Comics #854 that the character herself could not.

I have never been so happy to have been proven wrong in my life.

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