Batgirl #1, Stormwatch #1, JLI #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]September 9th, 2011 at 22:09
I have to learn that holidays or no holidays, Fridays are a write-off for me. I get nothing but the smallest tasks done, and while it’s a good day for catching up on all the stuff I don’t manage to finish while I’m writing novels through the week, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
So today I child-wrangled, and I got up my Friday links post, and that was pretty much it. But in amongst the visitors & child-wrangling, I managed to make this a comics day. I listened to the latest episode of Panel2Panel, featuring a great discussion on the (temporary) deaths of superheroes – I especially loved what Grant had to say about the importance of legacy heroes and how this gets sabotaged every time they bring back some old guy from the grave. And it’s nice to hear Kitty’s POV because I know so little about Marvel – I had no idea that Marvel don’t have the same legacy tradition with newbies taking over the suits and hero names of their seniors!
I also listened to How I Got My Boyfriend Into Comics who also had an excellent main topic, this one being Supergirl vs. Superboy. I got all nostalgic for the Superboy comics I read when they first came out in the mid-90′s, with his leather jacket and stupid hair and Hawaii. Awwww, Superboy with no name, I did rather love you.
Raeli joined my comics party by discovering the Tiny Titans comics I got her on the iPad, and devouring them. It was a little scary. Tiny Titans are brilliant – the concept is pretty much Muppet Babies or Torchwood Babieez done with the Teen Titans characters and a few other guest stars like Batgirl. Each issue has a bunch of stories featuring various characters, some only a page long and others 6-8 pages. It’s cute and smart and unscary, and perfect for my six year old. She even read one of them to Jem as a bedtime story. I gained some cool Mum points for being able to identify Terra and Raven, and I remain kind of glad she hasn’t asked me why there are two Wonder Girls. I kind of love that their approach to DC canon is to just include everyone and am looking forward to the all Batgirls issue next month!
My favourite story of the Tiny Titans is in issue #1 (which is either 99 cents or free on the iPad) and features Cassie Wonder Girl deciding her new superhero costume is jeans and a t-shirt. This leads to some of the other kids wondering, how would Wonder Woman look if her costume was jeans and a t-shirt? (answer: kind of awesome) That’s basically the level it’s at, but did I mention adorable?
Now on to the grown up stuff! SPOILERS for Issue #1 of Batgirl, Stormwatch and Justice League International below.
I was in two minds about this one. I love Gail Simone’s work, mostly through Birds of Prey, but then there was that whole issue with taking Barbara Gordon’s powerful story arc as Oracle away from her, and removing the only disabled superhero from the DC Universe. On the other hand, as Godiyeva said very firmly to me on more than one occasion, putting Barbara Gordon *in* the wheelchair in the first place, and not letting the character recover like every other character in comics, was just as problematic.
I did very much like how Simone handled the transition, showing clearly that this is an alternative version of the DCverse in which Babs was shot by the Joker in exactly the same way, and confined to a wheelchair for three years before regaining the use of her legs. This event has had a deep impact on her, and changed the way she looks at the world – whether it be wincing at the casual ableism of her new roommate, or freezing in a fight against someone who points a gun at her. It’s no Oracle, but I liked the fact that the storyline hasn’t erased all of her complex history, and it remains as part of her personal baggage.
Everything else about this comic is pretty great. We see the warm relationship between Babs and her father, a new friendship forming with her activist roommate (who I’m guessing is anti-establishment and thus anti-police, so that could be interesting) and we get to see an awful lot of art of Babs swinging on a line, riding her cool motorbike, etc.
It’s well written, the art is easy on the eye, it’s very gung ho girlpower and yeah, I love my Babs.
VERDICT: Almost certainly a keeper.
This is a far better introduction to a team book than poor old Justice League #1, and that’s with me still hardly knowing who anyone is. The whole thing is coming across as a bit of a Torchwood of the superhero world (I mean this is a good way!) in that it’s all a little darker and grittier, there are lots of panels drawn in sinister alleys and so on. I’m intrigued. I love me some Martian Manhunter and I very much like how he’s written and drawn here, plus bonus points for remembering he’s a shapechanger (amazing how many stories forgot this).
All I know about the previous iterations of this comic is that it’s come in from some other comics company that’s a lot less straightlaced than DC, and that it features a gay couple who get married someday. Which is kind of awesome. I do like what I’ve seen of Apollo and the Midnighter, even if that isn’t very much.
Basically I suspect this is one of those I’ll be going back and re-reading once I have half a dozen or so issues, and enjoying even more. I’m not there yet, but the introductions so far have encouraged me to keep going.
VERDICT: So far so good.
This is where I have to admit what a Justice League International tragic I really am. Give me an international team of superheroes almost no one has heard of and some random adventure and a bit of inter-team bitching, and I’m there. Having said that, this issue was a bit more lukewarm than I was hoping for, as I have a bit of a soft spot for the Justice League Dan Jurgens wrote back in the day, and for the Death of Superman comics which remain the only substantial Superman run I’ve ever read properly.
The actual team itself excites me. Short of bringing Ted Kord back from the dead as Blue Beetle, I couldn’t really ask for more. And I don’t require full on bwa-ha-ha humour for it to feel like my Justice League, I’m happy for characters like Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, etc. to be taken seriously. But…
The set up worked for me, the adventure worked for me, and the art is exactly the kind of art I associate with this kind of Justice League. Having Booster Gold as the leader is bizarre to me but it fits with everything that’s gone before, and Guy Gardner refusing to accept that was just as believable. Even a bit of Batman coming along for the ride was cool. I appreciate a nod to the past with a new Rocket Red, and the banter between him and the new Chinese hero August General in Iron was fun.
The scene in which the international council run through the potential superheroes and rule out a whole bunch of them delighted me (Plastic Man who I hate with a fiery vengeance – no; Blue Beetle who is adorable but would make me sad with the not being Ted Kord – no rookies; Batman – didn’t you say you wanted heroes we could control?). It brings me back to the old JLI days and the old Justice League Europe days, and aww. Nostalgia.
But where were Fire and Ice? They are drawn brilliantly, but Ice only had a single line that actually sounded like it came from her (talking with Booster about how to handle Guy) and one that was generic banter and most definitely not Tora-like at all. I’m pretty sure Fire got no lines at all, and no hint as to her personality. And yes sure, it’s problematic that the Brazilian superheroine’s personality usually consists of a) being sexy b) being kind of a bitch and c) having a hotblooded temper, but COME ON. I love to her to bits, and I’m delighted to see her and Ice in the same team because frankly I never entirely got over Ice’s death back in the 90′s, and where is my girl friendship? Where is the teasing Booster?
Where, in short, are Fire and Ice, because I did not see them participate in this comic.
I wouldn’t have minded if the reason they were being sidelined was so as to give more attention to the new female characters, Vixen (not that new as she was in your Mama’s Justice League, post-Crisis, late 80′s style) and Godiva (who I remember from the Global Guardians – she has big hair. And fights with it.) but there wasn’t really a lot of that. Godiva is the most prominent female character in this particular issue, when it comes to actual dialogue, and we learn that she is British (honestly I never knew this about her before), she’s a bit bitchy and a bit flirty (THAT IS FIRE’S JOB OMG) and a bit bolshy. Vixen is suspiciously quiet.
So yes there is a lot of potential here for it to be a fun, great comic, and I love that the diversity is so much better than the “real” Justice League, as is only appropriate for a comic with ‘International’ in the title, but it doesn’t matter if you have four women on the team instead of one if you never let them do anything or show off their personalities. Or have personalities.
All having different coloured hair is not enough. I expect better!
VERDICT: Who am I kidding? Justice League International tragic. Damn it, damn it. Short of them actually killing both Fire and Ice off, I’m here forever.
I’m starting to remember why it took me so long to quit comics last time. Damn it.