GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Batmen, X-Files, 47 Ronin and Elmo

Street Fighter Vol. 1
Street Fighter Vol. 1

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Corrina takes a look at the various grim versions of Batman running around the DC Universe, Dakster reviews Street Fighter, Melody and Ella look at a great Elmo comic for kids, Sophie dives back into The X-Files, and Kelly goes diving with Aquaman in Justice League: The Throne of Atlantis.

Dakster Sullivan — Street Fighter Vol. 1 by, Ken Siu-Chong

Thanks to a sale on Comixology this weekend, I was able to pick up volume one of Street Fighter for $4.99 (regularly $7.99). I wasn’t sure about it at first, but one of my Twitter friends, and fellow comic book enthusiast, @PhillyDaveGuy, convinced me it was worth a shot.

I’m glad I did, because it was a nice break in my Sunday and showed me that superhero comics aren’t the only thing worth reading.

Most of the story focused on the murder of two characters, Charlie Nash and Master Gouken, and the journey their friends take to avenge them. Reyu was my favorite character, because of his devotion to his master and trying to avenge him while still paying attention to his master’s teachings. Even though I’m only briefly familiar with the characters in the Street Fighter Capcom game, the writers did a nice job filling in readers with the “who and what” in the story.

I enjoyed the inclusion of strong female characters who could handle their own in a fight. Okay, so a few of them were on the wrong side, but they still count. Overall,  I never felt lost when they bounced between Charlie and Gouken’s story. In the end, both characters’ stories started merging and what’s left is a nice ending and a lead in to volume 2.

Street Fighter is recommended for ages 12 and up, because of violence and some hard language.

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

Corrina–Justice League #25: Forever Evil, Geoff Johns, writer, and Doug Mahnke, artistJustice League 3000 #1, Keith Giffen, plot, J.M. DeMatteis, dialogue, Howard Porter, artist; Earth 2 #18, Tom Taylor, writer,  Nicola Scott, penciller, Superman/Wonder Woman #3 Charles Soule, writer, Tony Daniel, art; and, from Vertigo,  Coffin Hill #3 Caitlin Kittredge, writer, Inaki Miranda, artist.

Justice League #25 cover, copyright DC Comics
Justice League #25 cover, copyright DC Comics

Welcome to the DC Universe, where there are several current versions of Batman running around, each more grimdark or evil than the last.

The award for most evil goes to Owlman in Justice League #25, part of the Forever Evil event that has the super-powered Crime Syndicate taking over the DC Earth. As if Batman’s origin wasn’t dark enough, Owlman’s origin takes it a step further and adds a dead kid and some nasty intent. Then we get the origin of Dick Grayson in the Syndicate’s twisted world and, yes, yet another dead kid is added to the Flying Grayson’s circus deaths. (Though evil Grayson himself seems to have been the least dark of all the heroes from this alternate Earth.) Elsewhere in the issue, Plastic Man is born into the new 52. But no dead kids in his origin! How will he ever cope?

Kudos to Mahnke for making this issue mostly moody and atmospheric rather than gory and bloody.

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In Justice League 3000 #1, what seems to be the classic Justice League has been brought back to life in the far-flung future for an unknown purpose.

Except this League is a lot nastier than the original League, perhaps a problem with their genetic programming by the duo ironically termed the “Wonder Twins.” There’s a great deal of meta-commentary on the current grim state of the regular DC Universe, with several characters telling Flash he used to be a lot more fun and saying Wonder Woman is the same–wait, maybe she’s a tad bloodthirstier than previously. (Though the implication is that she’s far too bloodthirsty in her current incarnation, to which I can only add “amen.”) If this was more over-the-top, it would be a lot of fun but it’s played mostly straight. With everyone being so unlikeable and one-note nasty, I’m not sure why I should keep reading, other than Porter’s really cool kinetic art. Kevin Maguire was originally supposed to be the artist for this series but he was fired before publication. “I’ve been told they wanted a book that was “dark and gritty”, so I’m perplexed as to why they chose us for that,” Maguire said in an interview at Comic Book Resources in August.

That may explain a few things as to how this issue turned out.

Coffin Hill #3 cover, Copyright Vertigo Comics.
Coffin Hill #3 cover, Copyright Vertigo Comics.

A comic that came out a week ago, Earth 2 #18, also had a darker version of Batman than the familiar Bruce Wayne, though this Batman is closer to being a good guy than the alternate and future versions.

Previously on Earth-2, a Superman brainwashed/controlled by Darkseid was wrecking havoc on Earth-2 (just one alternate world away from the regular DC Earth). Earth-2 heroes have scattered, for the most part, to regroup. In this issue, the new Red Tornado, inhabited by the mind of Lois Lane, joins forces with the new, mysterious Batman to free several heroes kept captive by the government, including a super-hacker version of Jimmy Olsen. But to show this is not your regular universe Batman (and he’s definitely not any version of Bruce Wayne), Earth-2 Batman frees the Joker only to put a bullet through his brain. It’s a measure of how dark the regular DC Earth is that I thought, “well, why is this so shocking?”

Still, I’m very curious to this Batman’s identity. Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce’s long-lost brother? James Gordon Jr. being a good guy? Dick Grayson? Terry McGuinness? Another fan theory is that this is the real Superman and the one Darkseid is using is a Bizarro clone. We’ll see, though a now-deleted Tweet from last month seemed to indicate it’s Thomas Wayne Jr.

Superman/Wonder Woman #3 does have our regular heroes being heroic in it (whew!) and it’s mostly about the relationship, save for the first appearance of Zod in the new 52.

So far, Zod’s only menacing and not really a bad guy, and he seems sincere or else he can beat Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. Superman remains unsure of Zod’s motivation despite that and keeps him a prisoner until he can sort it out. I predict this will not end well.

As for the title relationship…well, let’s just say Superman and Batman have more chemistry in this issue than the supposed hot couple, possibly because the relationship talk is a little too on-the-nose or perhaps because no writer could make this relationship of two perfectly pretty powerful people interesting.

Over in Vertigo, the horror story Coffin Hill was a breath of fresh air, as it was exactly what it claimed to be: a spooky, adult, New England, gothic-horror story featuring witches, spells, and an unknown demon out for children. I’m still not sure if title character, Eve Coffin, is out for redemption or will end up reclaiming her dark side, but I love the way the mystery is being peeled back bit by bit.

Corrina received these review items for promotional purposes.

Kelly Knox – Justice League: Throne of Atlantis HC (DC Comics), Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Ivan Reis

One of the first big events for the Justice League this year, Throne of Atlantis includes issues from Justice League and Aquaman. The hard cover collection opens with a Wonder Woman-centric story that isn’t related to the rest of the book, but still works well to establish the characters in the fledgling Justice League of the New 52.

Throne of Atlantis (Art by Ivan Reis) © DC Comics

The main story centers on Aquaman and his battle with the Ocean Master as an army from Atlantis is provoked into taking action against the human world. Gotham, Metropolis, and Boston are under siege from the ocean, masterfully depicted by artist Ivan Reis. As someone who never really followed much of Aquaman’s story, I found myself intrigued by the crossover of the event more than I expected — and for the first time ever, I’m considering picking up issues of Aquaman to see the continuing story play out.

This book is my first good look at the budding relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, and while I’m still not a fan, I appreciate seeing it build up and become established over time.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a good standalone collection if you’re looking to get your feet wet with the Justice League of the New 52 (see what I did there?).

GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.

Lisa Tate– 47 Ronin written by Mike Richardson and art by Stan Sakai

47 Ronin  Image: Dark Horse
47 Ronin Image: Dark Horse

I’ve been seeing the hype for the new fantasy adventure movie coming out Christmas Day, 47 Ronin, based on the Japanese tale of the 47 Ronin (master-less samurai), and their epic struggle to avenge a former disgraced master.

Although the movie doesn’t have any direct connection to the five-issue Dark Horse comic of the same name, as far as I can tell, it gave me an opportunity to re-discover this beautiful adaption written by Mike Richardson with the easily-recognizable and dynamic art of Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.

There is probably no one better to adapt a legend that has been associated with the epitome of the Japanese Samurai code of honor than Sakai, and Richardson did his homework on the story, even taking on prolific Manga writer Kazuo Koike as editorial consultant.

The comic is admittedly violent (and heartbreaking in places), but the narrative is exceptionally well-researched. I don’t know how the movie adaptation of the legend will be, but the Dark Horse series is a first-rate example of the samurai genre.

The full 47 Ronin series ran from November 2012 through July 2013, so all of the issues are still easy to get online. Also, if you aren’t too impatient to read these, you can pre-order the hardback compilation from the publisher due for release in February, 2014.

Melody Mooney – Sesame Street Volume #1 

Ella and I have been reading comics for just about a year now. I began to wonder if she, as a two-year-old, would understand the difference between the illustrated books we read at bedtime and actual panel and text comic books. Just in time, we discovered an unread gem in her pile: Sesame Street #1 from Apecomics.

Sesame Street How to read a comic, Ape EntertaimentIt stars all her favorite friends like Bert and Ernie, The Count, and Oscar the Grouch. Each of the seven short stories feature imagination filled adventures told by different writers.

“How to Read a Comic, Part 1” (Jason M. Burns/Scott Ball) Elmo teaches comic book reading.
“The Anatomy of a Hero” (Jason M. Burns/Amy Mebberson)Super Grover teaches Elmo how to be a hero.
“Little Castle Built by Prairie” (Jay Fosgitt) Snuffy and Prairie Dawn play Dragon and Castle.
“Smog Day Afternoon” (Paul Morrissey/Scott Underwood) Oscar daydreams about a smelly world.
“A Dip in the Galaxy” (Patrick Storck/James Silvani) Cookie Monster imagines a trip to the tasty moon.
“The Count Counts” (Jay Fosgitt) The Count dreams about counting car parts.
“Imagination Runs Wild” (Jason M Burns) Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures continue through a brief bit of time travel.

The one page introduction, that will be re-occuring throughout the series, is what really sold me on the whole issue: How to read a comic part 1, as told by Elmo. Using his pals, Big Bird and Murray, he teaches in easy language what it means to look at a words and drawings. He explains that when Elmo talks in a comic book words appear in bubbles. He goes on to explain that there are times when Elmo won’t be talking but the reader will see words in a box. When this happens it means one of his friends, the narrator is talking. He even goes so far as to offer that if Big Bird is talking in a bubble, the reader can use a different voice.

It was a delightful, and real, break down of the anatomy of comic reading. We are now going to get the next issue in the series to explore more. As Ella grows in reading comprehension, we will be exploring more descriptions like this. It was also nice for me to return to the sunny days and friendly neighbors that sparked my own childhood imagination.

Sophie Brown — X-Files Season 11 #7

X-Files Season 11 #7 continues and concludes the comic series’ first monster-of-the-week plot.

Issue six left us with a classic Mulder-in-peril situation and it doesn’t take much guesswork to figure that this week’s offering gives us yet another classic X-Files trope – Mulder/Scully in hospital.

What issue seven really gives us, however, is a brilliant slice of back-story where the evolution of the Flukeman is explained thanks to a series of flashbacks. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle that was hinted at way back in 1994 when “The Host” first aired (“Mulder, nature didn’t make this thing. We did.”).

The story concludes in classic X-Files fashion and leaves us ready for more which we will be receiving in abundance thanks to the wealth of X-Files comics coming out in January.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Action Comics #26
Batman Superman #6 GM
Batwing #26
DC Comics Essentials Watchmen #1
Astro City #7
Batgirl #26 GM
Batman #26
Batman Black And White #4 (Of 6)
Batman Li’l Gotham #9 Kid Friendly
Coffin Hill #3
Constantine #9
DC Comics Essentials Action Comics #1
DC Comics The New 52 Villains Omnibus HC
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #6
Forever Evil Arkham War #3 (Of 6)
Green Lantern Corps #26
Justice League #25 GM
Justice League 3000 #1  NEW SERIES
Justice League Of America #10
Katana #10
Legends Of The Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #1
Nightwing #26
Scooby-Doo Where Are You #40 Kid Friendly
Smallville Season 11 Alien #1 (Of 4) GM
Suicide Squad #26
Superboy #26
Superman Action Comics Vol. 2 Bulletproof TP
Superman Action Comics Vol. 3 At The End Of Days HC
Superman Wonder Woman #3 GM
Worlds’ Finest #18 GM
Young Justice Vol. 4 Invasion TP Kid Friendly
A+X #15
Amazing Spider-Man #700.3
Avengers A.I. #7.INH
Avengers Epic Collection Vol. 9 The Final Threat TP
Cable And X-Force #17
Captain America #14
Captain America Living Legend #4 (Of 4)(Francesco Francavilla Variant Cover)
Cataclysm The Ultimates #2 (Of 3)
Cataclysm Ultimate Spider-Man #2 (Of 3)
Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol. 6 HC GM
Deadpool By Daniel Way The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
Emerald City Of Oz #5 (Of 5)
Essential Hulk Vol. 7 TP
Immortal Iron Fist The Complete Collection Vol. 1 TP GM
Inhumanity The Awakening #1 (Of 2)
Marvel Knights Hulk #1 (Of 4)
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble #3
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #21
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Poster
Marvel’s Captain America The First Avenger Adaptation #2 (Of 2)
Mighty Avengers #4.INH
Mini Marvels The Complete Collection TP
Nova #11
Punisher Trial Of The Punisher #1 (Of 2)
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #6
Thunderbolts #19
Uncanny X-Men #15.INH
Wolverine #12
Wolverine And The X-Men #39 GM
Wolverine MAX #14
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Danger Girl The Chase #4 (Of 4)
Doctor Who Series 2 The Girl Who Waited The Boy Who Lived HC
G.I. JOE #11
G.I. JOE Special Missions #10
G.I. JOE The IDW Collection Vol. 3 HC
Ghostbusters Vol. 6 TP
Haunted Horror #8
Indestructible #1 (Of 4)
Judge Dredd The Complete Carlos Ezquerra Vol. 1 HC
Li’l Abner Vol. 6 HC
Magic The Gathering Theros #2 (Of 4)
Maxx Maxximized #2
Memory Collectors #2 (Of 3)
My Little Pony Micro-Series #7 (Cutie Mark Crusaders) Kid Friendly
Other Dead #4 (Of 6)
Powerpuff Girls #4 Kid Friendly
Powerpuff Girls Classics Vol. 2 Power Up TP Kid Friendly
Richard Stark’s Parker Slayground HC
Rocketeer The Spirit Pulp Friction #4 (Of 4)
Star Trek Annual 2013
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Classics Vol. 2 TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25th Anniversary Book HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics Vol. 2 #2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Ultimate Collection Vol. 5 HC
Thumbprint By Joe Hill HC
Transformers Monstrosity TP
Transformers Prime Beast Hunters #8 (Of 8) Kid Friendly
Wraith Welcome To Christmasland #2 (Of 5)
X-Files Season 10 #7
Abe Sapien #8
Abe Sapien Vol. 3 Dark And Terrible And The New Race Of Man TP
Brain Boy #0
Clown Fatale #2 (Of 4)
Conan And The People Of The Black Circle #3 (Of 4)
Eerie Comics #4
Halo Escalation #1
Michael Avon Oeming’s Victories Vol. 2 Transhuman TP
Shaolin Cowboy #3 (Of 4)
Star Wars #12 GM
Vampire Hunter D Vol. 20 Scenes Of An Unholy War TP
X #8

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading 

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.