GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Science, Bendis, The X-Files, Lumberjanes, & Batman

Vixen: Return of the Lion
Art by Cafu © 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 check out a graphic novel that explains the seriousness of global warming. Kelly walks the wild side with DC Comics heroine, Vixen. Corrina joins up with Justice League United, Hinterkind, and Batman. Meanwhile, Lisa checks The United States of Murder Inc., and Sophie gets her fix with The X-Files and the all-ages comic book Lumberjanes!

Kelly Knox—Vixen: Return of the Lion by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu

I’ve been so impressed with Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson that when I spotted her name on Vixen: Return of the Lion, a collection of a solo miniseries from 2009, I picked it up immediately. Like just about everyone else who has read the Justice League, I’m familiar with Vixen and her animal powers, but that’s about all I knew about the character. I didn’t even know her real name. Thanks to the same expertise with handling characters that Wilson is currently demonstrating in Ms. Marvel, I won’t forget Mari McCabe or consider her a B-team Justice Leaguer again.

Vixen: Return of the Lion takes Mari back to her homeland after learning that her mother’s murderer is still at large. Superman tries to dissuade her from going on her own in a fantastic scene together, but Vixen must find her mother’s killer and nothing will stop her. The journey she takes to her home of Zambesi teaches her about herself and her powers in ways she never expected.

This is a quick read of a small miniseries—only five issues—but it’s a great look at a character that deserves the spotlight. Although she has to share some of it with the Justice League once the action reaches its peak, it demonstrates the camaraderie and respect the team has for Vixen. (And I can’t really complain because I always get a kick out of seeing Black Canary in action.) Vixen could have handled it all on her own, though.

Thanks to this graphic novel, I’m interested to see where the New 52 has taken Vixen. I’m a new fan.

Dakster Sullivan—Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

Climate Changed Cover
Climate Changed Cover

This week I’ve decided to pick up something a little off the beaten path of what I usually read. Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science takes a look at global warming in the simplest of terms. I’m not a science geek by any means so I was still lost at some of what he was talking about, but I can say that I could understand 90% of it. What intrigued me about this book was the topic and the media the author chose to put it in.

What makes such a serious and in-depth topic good in a comic book format? My best guess is that it will reach more readers. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have touched this book if it hadn’t been done as a graphic novel.

The author combines interviews, research, and personal experience to come to his conclusions. He also uses casual conversations with his wife as a means of breaking things up and keeping the reader from feeling like they’re going through a research paper. It’s a long book to be sure, at 467 pages, but I was able to sit and read around 83 pages at a time without needing a break.

If you are a science geek and interested in the topic of global warming, I highly suggest you pick up Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through Science. Even if you’re not a science geek, pick it up. If nothing else it’s an interesting topic to see in a comic book form.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review sample.

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

Lisa Tate—The United States of Murder Inc. #1 written by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Michael Avon Oeming (Icon Comics)

US Murder Inc.  Image: Marvel ComicsThe profoundly (and profanely) enjoyable comic book “power” couple Bendis and Oeming’s latest creator-owned endeavor brings Bendis’s knack for crime comics, snappy dialogue, and raw humor together for a new series. The United States of Murder Inc. focuses on five organized crime families who still run much of the United States, including keeping a good chunk of the government in their pocket.

Even with the familiar look and flow of Bendis and Oeming’s pooled talent, this opening double issue started out with what I thought was the typical Coppola/Scorsese mob drama storyline—the young buck coming of age in a powerful family gets his first “assignment” as a made man. Taking his “schmuck” of a cousin along for the ride, he runs into a hard-edge hitwoman, Jagger Rose, who helps him out of a near-fatal problem and potential betrayal.

Yes, it all seems like the familiar tale, that is, until the end’s surprising twist and cliff-hanging last panel re-wrote the genre in ways only Bendis could. I should know better than to think Bendis would create a story that was didn’t include that little plot twist that makes his stories so exciting, so wild, and so…. Bendis.

Corrina—Justice League United #2 by Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone, and Dexter Vines; Detective Comics #32 by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato; Hinterkind: The Waking World by Ian Edginton and Francesco Trifogli

Justice League United #2: Up until this issue, I’ve been disappointed in this series as I was expecting much more than a disjointed and somewhat confusing story from the creators, especially Lemire. But this issue is the best so far. The disparate team of Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Animal Man, Green Arrow, along with the new version of Adam Strange, finally seem like a team with a series problem, namely that they’re stranded halfway across the galaxy, while new versions of Alanna and Hawkman (I’m fairly sure he couldn’t regenerate an arm before) are stuck in a spaceship with a crazy mad scientist. The book has yet to integrate the new Native American heroine created by Lemire, but, for the first time, it’s a coherent story. I suspect this will read very well when collected in trade.

Batman, Francis Manapul, Detective Comics
Detective #32, art by Francis Manapul, copyright DC Comics

Detective Comics #32: This is the most gorgeous book I’ve read from DC in a long time. Manapul’s art has been stellar since he began his run on ‘Tec two issues ago but this is the first when the story and the art gelled beautifully for me. The plot concerns a dangerous new drug, Icarus, and murders connected to it, including one of Bruce Wayne’s friends. There’s a beautiful scene at the edge of Gotham’s dock as Batman talks to the young woman whose mother was murdered, which is one of the best scenes I’ve read in a Batman comic in a while. For  fans of the slovenly but smart Det. Harvey Bullock, there’s a also two-page spread at his apartment that is destined to be one of my favorite two-page spreads ever and there’s yet more eye-popping art as Batman battles a giant squid. Much of the DC art lately seems all the same, like lesser versions of Jim Lee’s art style, and Manapul’s painted style stands out among them.

Hinterkind: The Waking World: I wanted to love this Vertigo series when it first premiered, but the first issue seemed to have too many cliches for me, especially the wisecracking, rule-breaking girl who disobeyed orders and promptly got into trouble. But now that the full story is collected in trade, I can see it’s far more than that. The concept is that a disease called Blight killed off a good portion of the human race, but also allowed all the forgotten legends of the world to come out from the shadows. The brash teenager soon learns that the world is a much scarier place than she thought. There’s a creepy and evil group of humans who are just as dangerous as any of the fairy tale creatures, an exiled and untrustworthy elf, and there’s also a subplot involving the Elven Queen. Highly recommended.

Sophie Brown—Lumberjanes #3 by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis and art by Brooke Allen

Lumberjanes Issue #3  Image: Boom
Lumberjanes Issue #3 Image: Boom

I finally sat down and read the first two issues of Lumberjanes last week when the hype around the series pushed me past breaking point. I began reading issue one and was downloading the next one before I had even finished. The premise of the story, its style, and its characters drew me in practically from page one and issue three continues to keep me riveted from cover to cover.

We last left the girls at the bottom of a deep, dark cave and here we find them again. Naturally this is no ordinary cave and soon the girls are facing off against a variety of monsters and booby traps that Indiana Jones himself would be proud of tackling. It’s so refreshing to see an all-female cast having the kind of adventures that in so many other series would be reserved for the boys. These girls are tough enough to arm wrestle with statues and smart enough to know their fibonacci sequences from their Caesar ciphers. It’s also great to see girls getting themselves out of fights, and dealing with the bruises that come from them.

Away from the puzzle solving and monster slaying, there’s a touching scene between Mal and Molly that shows the tender side of even the toughest looking of the group. There’s been nothing overt between these two characters beyond a casual arm-slinging. However the shipper in me is always on the look out for signs of a new ship to flail over and it would be more than awesome to see a couple of LGBQT characters (acting age appropriately of course) in an all-ages title like this.

Quite simply, if you’re not already reading Lumberjanes then why the hell not?

Recommended for all ages.

The X-Files Art Gallery Issue

Anyone who knows me well will know I’m a fan art nerd with an ever increasing collection of X-Files pieces on the walls of my office. That’s why I was excited to hear that IDW were releasing a one off The X-Files Art Gallery issue which came out last week. It’s an interesting concept, not least because art is at best a subjective subject. What one person considers beautiful another may consider simply awful so choosing pieces for this special edition was always going to be difficult. The artists represented include Joe Corroney (Star Wars illustrator for Lucasfilm), DC artist Cat Staggs, and Miran Kim—artist on the original X-Files comics series for Topps/Manga. Because it is so subjective I won’t comment on my perceived likes (or otherwise) of the art, suffice to say that my feelings towards the pieces ran the gamut. However what I found interesting was how similar the subject matter was throughout.

This is a show with over 200 TV episodes and two films worth of material to work from, not to mention countless press shots and more. Surely there should be enough out there to avoid having multiple pieces based on the same reference image in a collection of only 68? And yes, I get that the flukeman was an iconic monster, but he shows up four times. Four. He isn’t even the only one to repeat, far from it. Mrs Peacock from the infamous episode “Home” is featured twice, as are—weirdly—“Detour”‘s mothmen who are apparently more popular than I gave them credit for. There’s so much they could have chosen from so why keep repeating the same subjects?

The same can be said for the artists. There is simply so much incredible fan art out available at the click of a mouse that I struggle to see why anyone other than die hard collectors like myself will pay out for this issue. Only nine artists are included, some getting up to 19 individual pieces displayed—that’s close to one third of the entire book given over to a single artist. Why not include more variety? I can even give you a list of names to start off with: Nasubionna, Meg of Vintage Styled Heart, Monica AKA Ratgirl84… There’s just so much choice out there that to see such a limited and repetitive selection was a major let down in what could have been a stunning book.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy.

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

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

Astro City #13
Batgirl #32
Batman Eternal #10
Birds Of Prey #32
Coffin Hill #8
Constantine #15
Detective Comics #32
DMZ Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #11
Green Lantern Corps #32
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3 Willpower TP
Infinity Man And The Forever People #1 New Series
JLA Vol. 5 TP
Justice League United #2 New Series
Legends Of The Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #3
New 52 Futures End #6 Weekly Series
Red Hood And The Outlaws Vol. 4 League Of Assassins TP
Royals Masters Of War #5 (Of 6)
Scooby-Doo Where Are You #46 Kid Friendly
Smallville Season 11 Lantern #3 (Of 4)
Superboy #32
Superman Wonder Woman #9
Worlds’ Finest #24
Worlds’ Finest Vol. 3 Control Issues TP
All-New Invaders #6
All-New Ultimates #3 New Series
All-New X-Men #28
Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 GM Recommended
Avengers The Legacy Of Thanos TP
Avengers Undercover #5 New Series
Avengers Vol. 3 Prelude To Infinity TP
Captain Marvel #4 New Series
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #2 (Of 4)
Deadpool #30
Figment #1 New Kid Friendly Series
Guardians Of The Galaxy #14 GM Recommended
Hulk #4 New Series
Invaders Classic The Complete Collection Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel Vol. 5 HC
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble #9
Mighty Avengers #11
New Avengers #19
Night Of The Living Deadpool TP
Nightcrawler #3 New Series
Original Sins #1 (Of 5) New Mini Series
Savage Wolverine #20
Secret Avengers #4 New Series
She-Hulk #5 GeekMom Recommended New Series
Thor God Of Thunder Vol. 2 Godbomb TP
Uncanny X-Men Special #1
United States Of Murder Inc #2 New Series
Wolverine #8
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Angry Birds Comics #1 New Kid Friendly Series
Chicacabra TP
Crow Pestilence #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Danger Girl G.I. JOE Deluxe Edition HC
Dexter’s Laboratory #3 (Of 4) Kid Friendly
Godzilla The IDW Era #1 New Series
Haunted Horror #11
Mars Attacks Vol. 1 Attack From Space Deluxe Edition HC
My Little Pony Micro-Series #5 (Of 6)(Pinkie Pie) Kid Friendly
Popeye Classics Vol. 4 HC Kid Friendly
Rocky And Bullwinkle #4 (Of 4) Final Issue / Kid Friendly
Rogue Trooper Classics #2 (Of 12) New Mini-Series
Sinister Dexter #7 (Of 7) Final Issue
Star Mage #3 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Star Trek #34
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary Special GM Recommended
Transformers Dark Cybertron Vol. 2 TP
Transformers Robots In Disguise #30
Wraith Welcome To Christmasland #7 (Of 7) Final Issue
Abe Sapien #13
Baltimore Vol. 4 Chapel Of Bones HC
Blackout #3 (Of 4)
Creepy Archives Vol. 19 HC
Crime Does Not Pay City Of Roses HC
Edgar Allan Poe’s Morella And The Murders In The Rue Morgue (One Shot)
EVE True Stories HC
Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories Vol. 3 Posthuman TP
New Lone Wolf And Cub Vol. 1 TP
Star Wars #18
Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi Vol. 3 Force War TP
Two Past Midnight TP
X #14

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.