GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Batman: Eternal, Avatar: The Search, The X-Files, and More!

batman eternal
From the cover of Batman: Eternal #2, 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. This week, I read about six kids who learn their parents are literally evil. Corrina journeys through Avatar, Batman: Eternal, and Tomb Raider, while Lisa takes us into the world of Moon Knight, and Sophie vents some of her frustration with The X-Files Annual issue.

Dakster Sullivan — Runaways Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona

Runaways Vol. 1  Image: Marvel
Runaways Vol. 1 Image: Marvel

The Pride is an evil super-villain group made up of six couples, who get together once a year to talk “business.” Their children are unaware of their illegal activities until they stumble on their meeting by accident. Understandably spooked, the kids take off in the middle of the night on a quest to bring their parents to justice. Along the way, each one of them learns something special about themselves that brings new meaning to “teenage troubles.”

After picking this title up on a whim when Amazon and ComiXology had it on sale for $1.99, I’m hooked! Brian K. Vaughan does a wonderful job making this kids relatable (with the exception of having evil parents) and makes you feel for what they are going through. The art by Adrian Alphona is very young at heart and colorful, even in the darker moments of the series.

I’ve read some spoilers about the volumes that follow, and for now, I’m not happy with what is to come. I’m sure that mindset will change once I actually read what happens in the series though.

Runaways is recommended for ages 12 and up and is available digitally and in trade on ComiXology and Amazon.

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

Corrina — Avatar: The Last Airbender: The SearchCreators: Bryan KonietzkoMichael Dante DiMartinoGene Luen Yang, and Gurihiru (Artist)

avatar the search
cover copyright Dark Horse Comics

Before I have anything to say about the contents, I have to gush about how gorgeous this book is. It’s a coffee table-sized hardcover with pages that are heavy and crisp in your hands. And the contents definitely match up to the wrappings. For Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, this is the story of Zuko’s search for the truth about his mother, who mysteriously disappeared the night that his grandfather was killed. He’s accompanied on that search by his friends, including Ang the Avatar, and by his enemy, his mad sister Azula.  Azula somewhat steals the shows, at turns threatening, heartbreaking, and sometimes just plain insane. The results of the search are satisfying to all.

The bonus of this oversize edition are the comments from the creators on the margins of each page. The book can be read twice, first for the story, then for the background behind the story. Not only is this fun information for readers but for writers looking to create comics, this is incredible information on how to craft a story.

Absolutely worth the full price of $39.99.

Batman: Eternal #1 and #2 art by Jason Fabok, written by Tim SeeleyRay FawkesJohn Layman,James T Tynion IV, and Scott Snyder

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I was going to say I planned to skip this event, as my reaction to issue #1 was a shrug. But then I read issue #2.

Eternal is a new multi-issue event in the Gotham-verse. Primarily, I was interested in the story for the return of fan-favorite Stephanie Brown. This first issue shows how Gotham begins to fall apart as Commissioner Gordon is obviously the victim of a set-up in which it appears he caused the deaths of a trainload of people. Getting Gordon out of the way and off the force is generally the first step in any master plan to take over Gotham, as an honest police force is a serious impediment to a hostile takeover. I loved the spotlight on Gordon, I’m glad Stephanie Brown is coming back, and I was happy to see Jason Bard return, Bat-geek that I am.

But despite all this, I wasn’t feeling this story at all. I suspect the problem is that I’ve read “Gotham falls apart” several times already. Gotham is falling apart in “Year Zero” that’s running in the current Bat-books. Gotham is falling apart as part of the big Forever Evil crossover. Gotham fell apart during No Man’s Land some years back. At this point, it’s a more dangerous place than Paradise Island, which is periodically getting destroyed, blown up or turned evil. Maybe I just need to give up on the Bat-books for a while, I thought.

The second issue, however, showed me something new. The plot moved past whether Gordon was at fault or not and right into who set him up. And that question is answered, at least partially, at the end of the story.  But something else is going on than just a mob scheme to takeover Gotham, something supernatural, and that’s clear from the appearance of a supernatural character associated with Gotham.

And now I’m hooked by the story.

Tomb Raider #3, written by Gail Simone, art by Nicolás Daniel Selma and Juan Gedeon

I’m reminded of what Gail Simone did with a younger Barbara Gordon in Batgirl in this comic featuring a young and inexperienced Lara Croft. Babs fought past a horrific trauma to become a hero again. Younger Lara is fighting past survivor’s guilt without the skills she’ll have later in life. This Lara isn’t a powerhouse but she’s learning and she’s getting better every issue, and I’m enjoying her story of survival more every issue.

Sophie Brown — The X-Files Annual 2014 

The X-Files Annual 2014  Image: IDW Publishing
The X-Files Annual 2014 Image: IDW Publishing

You wouldn’t believe the excitement that began rippling through the X-Files fandom several months ago when The X-Files Annual 2014 was first mentioned. “Frank Spotnitz!” people cried, “Uncle Frank is coming back!” Frank is one of the X-Files old guard. He was one of the show’s most prolific writers and spent four years as executive producer so news of him writing for the franchise again in any way was welcome news. That’s why I was so excited to finally get my hands on the annual, a standalone book containing two stories.

The first is penned by Frank, Gabe Rotter (production and writer’s assistant on the show), and Shannon Denton (X-Files comics editor and creator of Community’s recent G.I. Joe episode) and the second by Cerebus creator Dave Sim. It’s probably also why I was so disappointed by what I finally read.

The first story is actually OK. My problem with it is that it simply didn’t feel all that new. A man is killed in a hit and run whilst on the phone to his pregnant wife. Somehow the phone line remains open and he is able to call her from the afterlife as he runs around trying to stop some nasty types coming after her and their unborn child. It’s all a bit Ghost and a bit The Crow and not really that inspiring. I’d simply expected so much more from this and that’s before we even get to the artwork. As someone whose pull list is 95% adaptations of TV shows I’m very used to my favorite characters looking a bit wrong.

Depicting a real person as a two-dimensional comic book character is hard and comic artists are generally rushing to meet their deadlines like the rest of us; they simply don’t have time to spend days on each panel to make sure every expression is a perfect match to the actors they’re trying to imitate. It’s totally normal and totally forgivable. However there’s bad and there’s bad, and this is the latter. When I can barely concentrate on the story because I’m too busy being horrified by the images in front of me, you know it needed a rework.

Moving onto the second story in the book and we do something of an about turn. The artwork here is beautiful, if a little hard to place. The stories are set during the show’s TV run and the locations and general situation bears that out, however Scully looks older and much more I Want to Believe era which is a little odd.

There are a few more poor choices here too (such as her choice of nightwear). That might not seem like a big deal but Dana Scully’s collection of all-covering silk pajamas in a range of hues is legendary within the fandom; depicting her in a skimpy little vest and shorts is just wrong—painfully so. However these niggles are nothing compared to the plotline. Described in the previews as “a nightmarish tale starring a sleeping Dana Scully” I was so excited at the possibilities. Scully-in-peril is my X-Files guilty pleasure and this seemed an ample opportunity for some seriously freaky goings on.

Instead I found myself reading eleven pages of Scully having a semi-dream sequence heart-to-heart with her high school sweetheart Adam who, by the way, is appearing to her as a disembodied floating mutant hand (NB Scully’s high school sweetheart was mentioned by name on the show and was called Marcus, but I’ll let that slide in light of bigger issues).

Why is he coming to visit her in the middle of the night in such a guise? Because she made him that way in her head so she didn’t have to accept that deep down, she’s still in love with him, of course. Right… Adam the disembodied, floating, mutant hand even shows her an image of the daughter they will have together when she wakes up, quits the FBI, and comes running back to him. A beautiful little girl that looks eerily like Renesmee from the Twilight saga.

The whole thing is so bafflingly insane that you spend the entire story gaping open-mouthed and wondering what you missed. I didn’t even notice the first few times around that in one panel Adam the disembodied, floating, mutant hand actually has hearts in his eyes when he looks at Scully. Everything is going to be perfect and they’re going to live happily ever after. Unless they don’t, in which case he’ll meet someone else in twelve hours time and go on to live another wonderfully happy life with her instead. It’s Scully’s last chance to realize that she really loves him, you see? It’s also my last chance to sob over bad characterization and wonder how on Earth this ever made it to publication.

Lisa Tate — Moon Knight #1 and #2 by Warren Ellis, art by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire

Moon-Knight #1  Image: Marvel
Moon-Knight #1 Image: Marvel

It seems to be a prerequisite for all Marvel mercenaries to be both insane and bitingly witty. Meet Marc Spector (aka Moon Knight), whose latest solo comic delves into this fringe character’s deeper personal demons, and there are plenty. Suffering from DID (dissociative identity disorder), not to mention having been recently resurrected by an ancient Egyptian deity, Spector is back in New York helping police run down a killer murdering victims for spare body parts.

If I were to oversimplify Spector, Moon Knight is what happens when you take a Bruce Wayne type, give him Sherlock Holmes’ personality and deductive skills, and Deadpool’s skills and sense of compassion, with a couple of extra personalities as baggage. However, there is so much more to this man. He is mentally unstable, but he isn’t “insane.” He’s effective and helpful with crime fighting, but he isn’t the textbook definition of a hero.

Unlike many “darker” vigilantes, Spector’s glowingly white fashion sense allows his targets to see him coming, because, as he says, “That’s the part I like.”

Ellis (“Planetary,” “The Authority“) is a great match for Moon Knight, as he deals well with the gritty, ugly side of the superhero world. Moon Knight is certainly gritty and graphic, but it’s also a clever, sleek, and noirish crime comic.

After the first two issues, it’s hard to say in which weird direction Ellis will take the character — and the reader — next, but like Spector said, “That’s the part I like.”

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

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Adventures Of Superman Vol. 1 TP
American Vampire Second Cycle #2
Batman #30
Batman And Wonder Woman #30
Batman Eternal #2
Batwoman #30
Birds Of Prey #30
Daytripper Deluxe Edition HC
Final Crisis TP (New Edition)
Green Lantern New Guardians #30
Harley Quinn #5
Joker Death Of The Family TP
Justice League #29
Justice League Of America Omnibus Vol. 1 HC
Red Hood And The Outlaws #30
Sinestro #1
Smallville Season 11 Lantern #1 (Of 4)
Supergirl #30
Trinity Of Sin Pandora #10
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #4
Wonder Woman #30
Amazing X-Men #6
Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol. 7 HC
Deadpool Vs Carnage #2 (Of 4)
Hulk #1
Ms. Marvel #3
Nova #16
Spider-Man Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 TP
Superior Spider-Man #31
Superior Spider-Man Vol. 5 The Superior Venom TP
Thor Epic Collection Vol. 11 A Kingdom Lost TP
Thor God Of Thunder #21
Ultimate FF #1
Uncanny X-Men #20
Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 2 HC
Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 2 HC
What If Age Of Ultron #3 (Of 5)
Winter Soldier The Bitter March #3 (Of 5)
Wolverine #4
Wolverine And The X-Men #3
X-Force #3
X-Men #13
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

24 Omnibus TP
Crow Pestilence #2 (Of 4)
Frankenstein Alive Alive #3
Frankenstein Alive Alive Reanimated Edition
Ghostbusters Vol. 7 Happy Horror Days TP
Godzilla History’s Greatest Monster TP
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth Vol. 2 TP
Haunted Horror #10
Powerpuff Girls Vol. 1 TP Kid Friendly
Star Mage #1 (Of 6)
Star Slammers Re-Mastered #2
Superman The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Vol. 2 1961-1963 HC
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #7
Transformers Dark Cybertron Vol. 1 TP
Transformers Windblade #1 (Of 4)
X-Files Annual 2014
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #118
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth Vol. 8 Lake Of Fire TP
Brain Boy Vol. 1 Psy Vs Psy TP
Chronicles Of Conan Vol. 26 Legion Of The Dead And Other Stories TP
Crime Does Not Pay Archives Vol. 7 HC
Dark Horse Presents #35
Game Of Thrones Weirwood Snow Globe
Ghost #3
Ghost Omnibus Vol. 5 TP
Itty Bitty Hellboy TP
Skyman #4 (Of 4)
Star Wars #7 (Of 8)(Lucas Draft)
Star Wars Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows #5 (Of 5)
Star Wars Vol. 2 From The Ruins Of Alderaan TP
Trekker The Train To Avalon Bay TP
White Suits #3 (Of 4)

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.