GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — My Little Pony, Astro City, and DC Comics

My Little Pony Halloween ComicFest 2014. Image IDW Publishing.

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 enjoyed the Star Trek references in My Little Pony, Lisa flew high with Astro City, and Corrina has a few words with DC Comics and their current quality of work.

Dakster Sullivan — My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – Halloween ComicFest edition by Jeremy Whitley and Tony Fleecs

The comic book I was most excited to check out during Halloween ComicFest this past Saturday was My Little Pony. I’ve never been disappointed by any of the My Little Pony stories, and I was sure that this would be a joy to read.

I’m only on the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic right now, so the Cutie Mark Crusaders and especially Discord are still new characters for me to digest. Discord is played by Star Trek: Next Generation actor John de Lance, whose character on MLP is like a ponified (is that a word?) version of his character “Q” on Star Trek. As I was reading this issue, I could hear de Lance’s voice and see his mannerisms in the character.

When the Cutie Mark Crusaders run out of things to try for their cutie marks, Discord shows up to “help” them out. The story is full of bouncing back and forth between various activities, with a special “Trekkie” scene that made me laugh out loud.

It’s no surprise that at the end of the story, the Cutie Mark Crusaders still don’t have their cutie marks. I’d have to say that my favorite part was the warm fuzzies I got on the last couple of pages between the Crusaders and Discord.

It’s rare for me to find a free comic book that I would actually pay for to get in my collection. This one not only hits the mark, I can honestly say if I had not been able to get a copy, I would have searched high and low for one on eBay.

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

Lisa Tate — Astro City #16 by Author Kurt Busiek, art by Brent Eric Anderson, and cover by Alex Ross (Vertigo)

Astro City #16  Image: Vertigo
Astro City #16. Image: Vertigo

The beauty of Astro City creative team of Busiek, Anderson, and Ross, is that they have been consistently together since the creation of the title. As a result, their familiarity has given them the opportunity to fine tune and explore more and more aspects of the Astro City universe. This has taken them to Markham High School in a nearby community, where a teenage super villain and hero have come to a shaky arrangement. The villainous genius Simon Says, who we learned was the product of bullying, sets a brief truce and asks an unusual favor of the kindhearted town hero, Starbright. When Starbright grants his wish, Simon betrays him in true super-villain form, later to discover the secret that makes him look deeper into his own personal prejudices.

What struck me about this story is that it began with an often-visited theme of bullying those who are different. I am by no means criticizing this, but it sheds a new light onto those who are often accused of being the bullies. Simon learns to accept who he really is only after realizing his own tendency to stereotype. It is a nice twist on the usual bullying scenario, while still sharing the message of loving who you are in Busiek’s well-crafted gift of storytelling.

Age Recommendation: Teen +

Corrina — A Gotham Resurgence in Quality?

I’ve jokingly referred to DC’s reboot of their entire comic line three years ago as the “anti-Corrina” reboot, because it has done basically the exact opposite of what I love to read in comics. All the terrific stories and familiar character interactions and even character growth were tossed aside. In their place was some weird amalgam of gory violence and cynical happenings. Not heroic, not interesting, and not for me, aside from a few outliers.

Harley Quinn Comic Con
Harley Quinn at Comic Con. Image via DC Comics.

But lately, things are changing. That was evident to me when I opened the last two packages of books that DC sent me to review. Last week, I enjoyed all but one title. This week, all the titles. Granted, I only get a sample, but those of you who read my reviews know how rare that it. Usually, I find a gem in a bunch. Now, I find a few shiny stones and a few gems.

batman eternal
Gordon gets arrested in Batman: Eternal. Image via DC Comics.

Leading this resurgence is Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin, the most twisted and the most fun comic I’ve read in a long time. It’s also one of DC’s top-selling titles, which no one expected. For the regular Bat-books, the weekly title Batman: Eternal brings in all that wonderful Gotham history surrounding an over-riding mystery.  Gotham Academy continued the trend of innovation from the Bat-comics, with its Hogwarts-meets-Gotham approach and distinctive art and voice, along with the new direction for Batgirl. But I considered those outliers until last week, when I also received Catwoman #35 by Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown and Arkham Manor #1 by Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal.

The new direction in Catwoman features her taking over Gotham’s crime families, in an effort to bring some order to a Gotham now falling apart due to the events in Batman: Eternal. I approached the idea with skepticism, but was won over in this issue by the portrait of a Selina, who does care about Gotham and the people in it, but because of who she is, takes a much different approach to helping them than the police or heroes like Batman. Selina is smart, resourceful, courageous, and ruthless—and it all works.

Arkham Manor’s premise is that Wayne Manor is taken over by the city as the new criminal asylum, since Arkham Asylum has been destroyed and the mentally ill patients are sleeping in tents in the city’s stadiums. A cool idea, especially as Bruce lets this happen, because these people do need a roof over their heads and a place where they can be helped. However, this being Gotham, something goes awry and people are murdered inside the new facility. Bruce steals the identity of a homeless man and gets admitted to Arkham Manor as a patient. The story promises not only a mystery, but a chance to flesh out the history of Wayne Manor and, thus, Bruce’s own history.

Grayson Futures End
Grayson: Futures End issue. Copyright DC Comics.

The one title in the Batman line that I’m not enjoying is Grayson, with its trippy Prisoner-like stories. I don’t understand the characterization of Dick Grayson, nor do I always follow the trippy logic. However, I give high points to the creative team for doing something different and original, even if it’s not to my taste.

I can only hope that this quality lasts, because DC does still have two weekly titles that seem obsessed with death and destruction and heroes being not-very-heroic, and that’s the apostrophe-less Futures End and Earth 2: Worlds End.

The first concerns a horrible future five years in the DC future and the second is about the events that led to this future. My fondest wish is that by the end of these titles, those bleak futures are swept away and the titles that result are a change in the overall tone of the line.

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

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100 Bullets Vol. 1 TP
Batman Eternal #30
DC Comics Zero Year HC
Earth 2 World’s End #4
Green Lantern Vol. 4 Dark Days TP
Green Lantern Vol. 5 Test Of Wills HC
Harley Quinn Annual #1
Justice League Dark Annual #2
Justice League United Annual #1
New 52 Futures End #26
Preacher Vol. 6 TP
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3
Sinestro #6
Swamp Thing Annual #3
Vertigo Quarterly Yellow #1
Wonder Woman #35
All-New X-Men #33
Amazing Spider-Man #6
Axis Carnage #1 (Of 3) New Mini-Series
Axis Revolutions #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Deadpool And Cable Omnibus HC
Deadpool Annual #2
Death Of Wolverine Deadpool And Captain America #1
Death Of Wolverine The Logan Legacy #3
Deathlok #1 New Series
Elektra #7
Fantastic Four #12
Guardians Of The Galaxy #20 GeekMom Recommended
Hawkeye Vs Deadpool #0
Howard The Duck Omnibus HC
Inhuman #7
Iron Man Epic Collection Vol. 1 The Golden Avenger TP
Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1
Marvel Masterworks The Avengers Vol. 6 TP
Marvel Previews #135 (November 2014 For Products On-Sale January 2015)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #31
Miracleman Vol. 2 The Red King Syndrome HC
Nova #22
Original Sin HC
Savage Wolverine Vol. 2 Hands On A Dead Body TP
Thanos A God Up There Listening #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Thunderbolts #32
Uncanny X-Men Iron Man Nova No End In Sight TP
Wolverine And The X-Men #11
Wolverine And X-Men Vol. 1 Tomorrow Never Learns TP
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Anne Rice’s Servant Of The Bones HC
Basil Wolverton’s Weird Worlds Artist’s Edition HC
Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War #5 (Of 6) Kid-Friendly
IDW Fall 2014 Kids Comics Sampler
Little Nemo Return To Slumberland #2 Kid-Friendly
Rot And Ruin #1 New Series
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #34
Aliens Fire And Stone #2 (Of 4)
Baltimore The Wolf And The Apostle #1 (Of 2)
Blackout Vol. 1 Into The Dark TP
Blade Of The Immortal Vol. 30 Vigilance TP
Captain Midnight #16
Chronicles Of King Conan Vol. 9 The Blood Of The Serpent And Other Stories TP
Conan The Avenger #7
Deep Gravity #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
EC Archives Tales From The Crypt Vol. 5 HC
Goon Occasion Of Revenge #3 (Of 4)
Groo Vs Conan #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Massive #28
Mike Norton’s Battlepug Vol. 3 Sit Stay Die HC GeekMom Recommended
Mind MGMT #27
Project Black Sky Secret Files TP
Sundowners #3 New Series
Vachss Underground HC

Acronym Key: HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback