GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — August 28th, 2013

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Batman Incorporated Special #1, cover art by Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, copyright DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Corrina looks at two anthologies, one featuring Batmen, one all about vampires, that are fresh off the presses today, while Dakster dives into some motion comics on the web and Melody continues to give us a look into her daughters pull pile.

Corrina — Batman Incorporated Special #1, various creators, American Vampire Anthology #1 from DC’s Vertigo by various creators.

Both these titles release today. They’re incredibly different–one horror, one more fun and whimsical–but both are worth picking up.

American Vampire Anthology #1 is a collection of short stories set in the world of Vertigo’s American Vampire, created by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque. (Stephen King also wrote some early issues of the series.) I haven’t read any of the series, as horror isn’t my favored genre. Yet the talent on this anthology made it difficult to ignore. Creators include Becky Cloonan, Jason Aaron, Ray Fawkes, Francesco Francavilla, Jeff Lemire, Greg Rucka and Gail Simone.

The trick to a great anthology is linking the stories together into a whole. American Vampire Anthology does this brilliantly, with a front-and-back framing story, “The Man Comes Around,” by the title’s creators. That the story is named after a Johnny Cash song was a good sign, and, as I began reading, I became enthralled. The opening drew me into this strange world of vampires in America, with humans opposing vampires and vampires opposing vampires.

The tale begins in 1588 when the European vampires first crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and touches on Bleeding Kansas, the Canadian North in 1877, Hollywood, and life in the 1940s. I suspect those reading the series will see some familiar characters, and that will be a draw to them. For those like me, the draw is that each short tale is a morality play of some sort, though, this being horror, they tend to end badly. Usually in an anthology, I can point to one story that is the best. Here, I can’t choose. They all fit, even with the different styles of art. The creators have outdone themselves and, clearly, I need to start picking up the regular American Vampire series.

Batman Incorporated is a great deal more cheerful, with stories of heroes winning against the odds. It features many of the characters from just-ended series and touches on the different styles that writer Grant Morrison used in the book. (Morrison, however, didn’t contribute to this issue.) The Batman of Japan story has a manga-influenced style, the Squire’s tale has the young heroine dealing with the death of her mentor, three of the Batmen party/fight in Buenos Aires, and Bat-Cow saves a baby.

Yes, Bat-cow, complete with cape, in a mostly wordless tale by DC Co-publisher Dan Didio. I could wish the whole of his DC line has just a little of the fun in this small adventure.

With this anthology, I did have a favorite: “Brave” starring Raven Red, writen by Nathan Fairbairn and drawn by John Paul Leon. The Native American hero chases a villain to the top of an uncompleted skyscraper, leading him to flashback to a much earlier trip up high, to talk to a man seemingly intent on jumping off a casino sign in Las Vegas. The ending is perfect.

As I read these anthologies back to back, it struck me how well American Vampire suits the adult-oriented Vertigo imprint and yet how little the regular DC issues of the various Batman titles resemble the style of stories in Batman Incorporated.

That makes me sad, as superheroes should be fun every now and then, even Batmen.

Dakster Sullivan — Subject #9 episode #1, CAT Studios

Subject #9 ,created by CAT Studios, whose influences include Blacksad, Disney, Heathen City, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Mobile Suit Gundam, has quickly become my newest guilty pleasure. The premise of the story is a group of eight young, unique individuals, find themselves in a laboratory prison with questionable ethics. Since these are motion comics, they are essentially both an issue and an episode, so for clarity sake, I’ll be referring to them as episodes from here on out.

Episode #1 focuses on Rick, the lead character and teenage thief. He’s not to sure where he’s been taken, but it’s wet, cold, and unpleasant. After failing to make friends with his fellow inmates, Rick decides to get some sleep, which is interrupted by the warden and a scientist who have other plans for Rick’s evening.

Before he’s carted off, we meet prisoners Jess, Tina, twins Coldy and Hotty (I’m guessing their between the ages of eight and nine), and Bert. Since each episode is only around 20 pages long, we don’t learn much about everyone, but we get the sense that Rick and the others are not criminals (well, not in the normal sense of the word anyway). The twins especially give off an innocent “why are we here” feeling.

It speeds up after this first episode and we learn more about the lab, as well as the back-story behind how Rick and the others were picked up. Of the characters I’ve met so far, the ninja-like Shado and the adorable twins are my favorite. Shado gives off a “big-brother” kind of attitude that’s refreshing next to Bert’s hotheadedness, and the twins are just to cute not to love.

To date, I’m up to episode 16 and while I’m really enjoying Subject #9, I’m also developing a few complaints about it.

To start, I feel the female characters are overly-sexualized for the content of the series. At a first glance, you might think the series was for the under 10-years old crowd, but after you get into it a bit, it’s clear the artist doesn’t have young eyes in mind for this series. I’m really not enjoying how sexualized Jess and Tina are drawn and at one point, the guard threatened to rape Tina later in the evening. Major turn off there.

Second is a technical issue. It bothers me is how much of a drain the app is on my battery. These are motion comics, so expect your battery to last far less than if you were reading a traditional comic book on Comixology.

At 159 Narrs per episode (translation = $3.02 per episode), the cost also feels pretty steep, but for now the story is engaging enough for me to keep paying for it. As soon as the story stops being interesting though, it will go on the chopping block faster than the Flash can beat Batman in a foot race.

It takes me around 20 minutes to get through one episode, because you can’t fast forward through the motion effects, making it a guaranteed 20 minute break every time I start watching. Subject #9 is released bi-weekly on the Narr8 motion comics app and is available on GooglePlay, iTunes and Amazon. Up to episode 16, I’d say its appropriate for anyone 10 years old and up.

Stay tuned next week when I explore a kid-friendly story on Narr8!

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Melody Mooney — Ella’s Pull Pile: How I Spent My Summer Invasion

There are no leaves falling here in sunny California. Even if the thermometer says otherwise the back to school season is upon us. The folks at We Comics give us a great fun fall story in How I spent My Summer Invasion: Issue one written by Patrick Rieger and illustrated by Mark Sean Wilson.

In the full color pages, we are introduced to two best friends who find a top secret hotel for intergalactic travelers. They manage to stop a plot to destroy earth by taking summer jobs as bellhops. It is a cute adventure with lots of comedy. A great story for younger readers in the style of Bill Watterson. There are four more issues in this series. All five issues are now a part of the newly funded Kickstarter graphic novel collection. Other We produced tittles are Jimmy Brass, Second Grade Detective and Triage. All titles are available for purchase on their website.

Ella, who is not going back to school but loves a good story and colorful illustrations was fascinated with the ‘Starlei character’. She, being an alien superstar, was a natural favorite being described as “Zee most beautiful creature in zee entire Universe.” Ella’s description was a bit more modest. She said “pretty ghost lady.”

What I like about We Comics is that it is a independent company started by Jason Enright and Mairghread Wild Scott out of their desire to put cool, fun and unique stories appropriate for young and old readers alike on the shelf. The duo explain on their website that they “got tired of not being able to find the comics they wanted on the shelf, and decided instead of complaining they would make their own.”

We met Jason and the whole creative team at their very popular and busy booth at last year’s Comikaze convention here in Los Angeles. Ella’s copy was signed by the artists and we were delighted to read it. You will love it too, as a great Summer wrap up.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received review copies of some of these titles.

Looking for something else, readers? Check head over to Comixology to see all the fun reads coming out this week!

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Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.