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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 07/03/2009

Good King Leonardo has declared its time once again for Women In Comics Week, so we feature this week
three new DC comics that are premiering female heros and/or villains as their new central characters:

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Detective Comics #854
Publisher: DC Comics
Greg Rucka: Writer
J.H. Williams III: Artist
Dave Stewart: Colors

 
 

        
DC introduces Batwoman as the new headline main character in the latest issue #854 of Detective Comics.  For the uninitiated, DC originated a previous Batwoman character back in 1956.  This first Batwoman, Gotham socialite Kathy Kane, was phased-out of the DC Universe in 1964.  The current Batwoman was introduced in 2006 in DC's "52" series as socialite Kate Kane.  At the time, the character received national media attention as the highest profile lesbian character in major publication comics to-date.

     Detective #854 is written by veteran scripter Greg Rucka with art by J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart.  The story is sub-titled "Elegy Agitato" and is part one of a multi-issue story arc.  The story has two sub-plots.  The first is a basic introduction to Kane/Batwoman's world.  We learn that she's just starting to get out there on Gotham night patrol and get the hang of being a Caped Crusader.  The reader is introduced to her support characters including her retired colonel father who is her mentor and physical trainer, as well as her corporate girlfriend with whom her relationship is frayed as she keeps her hero identity a secret.  Kane also briefly crosses paths with the new Batman on night patrol.  The second sub-plot continues the Batwoman plot thread from the "52" series as I seem to remember it, as Batwoman hunts down and confronts a creepy crime cult in Gotham.  The story ends on an interesting cliffhanger as Batwoman confronts the Goth female leader of the cult.

     Several elements make this comic an entertaining read.  Greg Rucka gives us a story nicely balanced with a range of narrative elements.  Since Batwoman/Kane is a very new character to the DC Universe, its important that he weave-into the story some basic background details about her life.  Rucka succeeds very well on this count, giving us a good amount of pages and panels portraying Kane with her father and girlfriend as she struggles to settle-into the difficult balance of having a dual identity. 

     I also loved the personality that Rucka instills in Batwoman when she's in costume.  This Batwoman might be a rookie, but she radiates supreme confidence along with a veteran crimefighter's ability.  The story commences with a 9-page scene through which Batwoman practically swaggers, going beyond holding her own and actually trumping in attitude and action both a criminal and Batman during her late night patrol of the city.

     The high quality art of Williams and Stewart also adds a wonderful element to the story.  There's a lot of action throughout this issue, which the artists present in a very original and creative lay-out that literally makes the activity leap off of the printed page.  This is the first new issue comic that I've read in a long time in which the action scenes have a level of cinematic quality that remind me of the iconic artist Gene Colan at his best during his DC and Marvel Silver Age years.  So for all of the reasons above, a definite thumbs-up for this first issue featuring Batwoman as the new lead character in Detective Comics.

     On a final note, this 24-page story is followed by an 8-page story featuring Gotham Detective Renee Montoya as the crimefighter The Question.  Readers of DC's "52" series will remember Montoya as Batwoman's girlfriend in that series.  Subtitled "Pipeline," The Question tale begins a multi-issue storyarc in which Montoya starts to track and try to rescue an illegal immigrant who's been kidnapped in Los Angeles.  It's a decent story that adds some extra entertainment value to your $3.99 purchase of this comic.

 
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Gotham City Sirens #1
Publisher: DC Comics
Paul Dini: Writer
Guillem March: Artist
Jose Villarrubia: Colors

 
 

          
     DC Comics has added an all-new monthly comic series to the Batman: Reborn group of comics with the issuance this week of Gotham City Sirens #1.  The comic is scripted by veteran comic scribe Paul Dini with art by Guillem March and Jose Villarrubia, and features the team-up of the three most famous Gotham City villainesses in the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Poison Ivy and of course, the Joker's flame, Harley Quinn.

     Issue #1's story is entitled "Union," and interweaves two sub-plots.  In one, Catwoman clashes with a new Gotham City badguy named Boneblaster.  While Boneblaster is a third-rate street thug with some upgraded body strength, Catwoman struggles with dealing with him as she's still recovering from life-threatening injuries detailed in previous Batman comic issues.  The second storyline, which dominates most of the issue, focuses on the three villainesses following-up on Catwoman's suggestion that they band together into a trio, both working and living together.  I don't want to spoil any of the good details, so I'll only say that by issue's end, as can be typical when three roommates move-in together, two of the roomies have ganged-up on the third roomie over a very "catty" roommate issue.

     I thoroughly enjoyed this issue and just plain loved the humor in it.  Writer Paul Dini originally created the character of Harley Quinn for DC and gives us here another very funny take on the twosome of Harley and Ivy, with Catwoman thrown into the mix.  While Dini gives both Catwoman and Ivy a mix of drama and humor in their story roles, he's pitch perfect in blending Harley Quinn with a right-on mix of schoolgirl innocence and psychotic villainey that only a guy like The Joker would date instead of running away screaming from as fast as possible.  Its a lot of fun reading how this threesome begins their new experience as roomies, starting with finding a place to rent from a real estate broker who specializes in renting secret lairs to Gotham's underworld tenants.

     While Dini gives us a well-written and entertaining script, equal credit must be given to March and Villarrubia's artwork.  I've said it in previous reviews but it has to be said here again: its a rare artist or artistic team that excells in drawing facial expressions, and March/Villarrubia are definitely in that category, as they express Harley Quinn's ditzyness, Ivy's cunning and Catwoman's exasperation with artistic quality equal to none.  So my review advice is to get on-board with issue #1 of what's sure to be a very popular new title in the Batman: Reborn comic book series.  If this comic's sold-out by the time you read this review, don't hesitate to ask the good folks at That's Entertainment to order another copy for you; comic book humor done this well doesn't come along often enough for you to skip the chance to read and enjoy it!

 
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Power Girl #2
Publisher: DC Comics
Jimmy Palmiotti & Justion Gray: Writers
Amanda Conner: Art
Paul Mounts: Colors

 
 

          
     In follow-up to last month's review of Power Girl #1, I thought I'd round-out this week's Women In Comics reviews with a quick look at Power Girl #2.  This issue is titled "Unleashing The Beast," and continues issue #1's confrontation/battle between Power Girl and a villain who's essentially an ultrastrong gorilla with the transplanted brain of a human evil genius.  The issue is written by the team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts.

     I liked last month's issue #1 a lot, as it introduced us to the details of Power Girl's secret identity as Karen Starr, CEO of Starrware Industries, as a balance to her superhero life.  This issue focuses solely on Power Girl's battle with said evil gorilla-guy, which is protracted through the entire issue, interspersed with a flashback detailing his earlier human life and how he became a human brain trapped in a super gorilla's body.  The issue has a cliffhanger ending as a lead-in to next month's issue, as the gorilla-dude has captured Power Girl with the intent of transplanting his own brain into her body (yeech!).

     This is not a bad comic issue; Amanda Conners's artwork is of high quality as always and I always enjoy The Palmiotti/Gray team's writing, which harkens back to the best of the 1980's and 1990's basic superhero stories, giving the reader a standard, fun superhero tale without feeling the need to infuse every story element with high literary quality.  Only one thing bothered me about this comic; given the level of superstrength traditionally portrayed by any member of the DC Superman Family, oddly, this issue seemed to portray Power Girl at a lower level of ability.  It just seemed a bit off-putting to see this superhero spend an entire issue struggling in a basic fistfight with a freakin' monkey, albeit one with a genius human brain. 

     I'm still giving this issue a thumbs-up review for its basic entertainment value, but my advice to DC is to avoid squandering the potential of this new title by giving back to Power Girl her normal level of superpowers in upcoming issues, along with ending the gorilla bad guy storyline in the next issue.  More than three issues in a row of a comic starring a chimp, no matter how "super" or "Evil Genius"-oriented, is pushing it!

     So there we have it, three DC comics that are all off to new and promising starts with well-known female heroines or villainesses (or in Catwoman's case, a heroine/villainess depending on the day!) as their new central characters.  Lots of good reading coming your way this week from the DC Universe! 

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

We're still taking entries at Gordon_A@msn.com for our current contest, in which you tell us your favorite comic book writer and why you like his or her writing.  First prize is a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, so hurry-up and enter no later than this coming Wednesday, July 8!

Have a great comic book reading week and Fourth of July, and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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