Category Archives: Comics

Comic Review: Batman: Li’l Gotham Issues 1 & 2

Batman: L’il Gotham is a digital-only series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs uses the Batman universe to tell holiday short stories (and possibly later other stories that aren’t holiday related.) I’m a huge fan of Batman but I haven’t read any of the comics in years and I wouldn’t even know where to pick it back up (feel free to point out story arcs I should catch up on in the comments). So when I’m thrilled to have some stand alone Batman-related things I can enjoy as quick reads.

The first issue takes place on Halloween. Batman teaches Robin how to Trick or Treat. It’s as adorable as it sounds. And of course the villains, like the Joker and Harley Quinn, love Halloween because they can go out in public like normal people. (Obviously in this simplified version of Gotham, they’re not considering the option of just wearing normal clothes and ditching the makeup.) I especially enjoyed the variety of costumes in the background.

Issue #2 is the Thanksgiving episode. The Penguin takes issue to the ritual consumption of birds and thus plans to spoil the holiday. There’s a cameo by Li’l Barbara Gordon! I squeed. There are also Batman and Robin parade balloons, which Robin snarks about a little.

Nguyen’s beautiful watercolor style gives the comic a storybook feel but it’s still richly detailed and intricate. The writing is reminiscent of the older Batman cartoons, complete with cheesy villain puns (which I adore). They’re all complete stories, and read like episodes of a show.

If you like the cartoon incarnations of Batman or just fun little stories about him and Robin, you’ll enjoy this series.

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Comic Review: Watson and Holmes

I grew up watching Matlock and Murder She Wrote, so I guess it’s only natural that as a kid, I soon fell madly in love with Sherlock Holmes. I love the books, any tv adaptations I can find. I watch Sherlock and Elementary–and I apologize profusely over my doubts that the show could make a female Watson work with the usual bromance dynamic, because they have. Mea culpa. The point is, if it’s well done, I can’t get enough Holmes.

Watson and Holmes, the comic book by Bollers, Leonardi, and Menzoa, takes place in modern day Harlem. In this incarnation, Jon Watson is a medical intern who happens to be on duty when a twenty-something drug overdose patient comes in. Sherlock Holmes soon follows, and tells Watson that the guy has been drugged with “something unusual.” When Watson’s lab tests confirm it, he tracks down Sherlock and gets sucked into the case.

Sherlock is a private investigator here rather than the recently popular “police consultant,” which adds an element of danger as far as interference, but it’s a distinction I like. Holmes rarely has respect for the law; he just wants the truth. At their first meeting he tells Watson, “As for precincts, you won’t find me there… Only police and thieves. Though I’m sure there’s room for overlap.” So he retains his canonical jerkass personality–at least on the surface. Watson is an overworked doctor-in-training who’s curiosity keeps him following the PI, despite his unorthodox (and illegal) investigation methods.

The art work is gorgeous and detailed and the references to the original Sherlock Holmes are smartly done. The mystery is intriguing, complete with a gang (the Suicidaz) and a missing person. Sadly there’s only one issue out so far. But it’s only 99 cents, which is comic book dollars is basically free, so if you like Sherlock Holmes and want to see a new spin on it, it’s more than worth checking out. Hopefully the second issue will show up soon. (It looks like there’s a cover image for issue two floating around on their Facebook page, which I take as a good sign.)

Review: Claudia’s Story: An Interview with the Vampire grahic novel adaptation

I grew up on Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I read the first book when the movie came out in 1994 and the rest of the series, to a point, and I’ve reread them a lot since. I’d always loved vampires in various forms, but something about Interview with the Vampire brought out the richness and realism of what being such a creature who used to be human might be like. I’m also a sucker for a good story framing and having a quirky reporter taping the interview was awesome. To this day, the first four books in that series remain some of my favorites.

Claudia’s Story, an adaption by Ashley Marie Witter, is Interview from her perspective, which is dark and disturbing. It tells how she was turned, how she grew from a true child vampire into a woman trapped into a child’s body for all eternity, and how she puts up with Louis (doting but self-hating) and Lestat (Monsieur Can Do No Wrong). I’m a huge fan of swapped POVs and unreliable narrator, which is part of the reason I love The Vampire Chronicles. One book is Louis’ take and the next book is Lestat going “Pfft yeah right, here’s how I saw it.”

So to give us an entirely new perspective is a great idea for a fresh way to retell the story. We get bits and pieces of Claudia’s diary in the third book, Queen of the Damned (which bares little resemblance to its movie incarnation), when Jesse, a supernatural investigator, recovers the journal. It’s always something I wanted more of, and here we are.

It is impossibly creepy to see it drawn out on the page. Claudia is small, maybe five in the novel, and in the graphic novel there are scenes where that alone is enough to make my skin crawl.

Louis' expressions of frustration, angst, and sadness are as perfect as Lestat's grin.

(Child monsters are always the worst, aren’t they?) Witter doesn’t shy away from the gritty darkness of a child who is not a child, nor does she avoid the uncomfortable conversations that arise because of it. It is Claudia’s story, after all, and Witter tells in all of its twisted, strange entirety. It’s devastatingly heart-breaking and completely disturbing at the same time.

The art work is breathtakingly gorgeous, too. Even if Louis looks constantly depressed (accurate). And finally, finally, we get a depiction of Armand that doesn’t make him look like a middle-aged man with a bear hide on his head. (I’ll concede Antonio Banderas played the hell out of that part in the movie but the costuming.. yikes.)

It works as a stand-alone story, but I suspect its best audience will largely be fans of the book and/or the film. Although if you like pretty and haunting vampire comics, this is definitely one to add to your collection.

 

(Also I forgot how much of a jerk Lestat is in Interview. Seriously, like, I know he’s the quintessential teenager pretty much always, but if he did like three things differently, everything could have been puppies and roses and sparkl–err… Well.. Maybe it’s better that he didn’t.)

Clockwork Angel Manga Winner!

Hey guys. Magnus Bane was unable to assist in picking the winner–something about a Halloween party–and so I used a random number generator to determine the winner of the book.

And that winner is Commenter #2 – Maria!

Please send me your mailing address at chickswithcrossbows@gmail.com

YAY!

Review & Giveaway: “Clockwork Angel” manga adaptation

So you guys might remember that I basically threw my hands up in the air and let The Infernal Devices fandom suck me in. I regret nothing. But thanks to the talented artist Hyekyung Baek, they’re making a manga adaptation of the series, starting with the first book, Clockwork Angel. This volume covers the entire plot of that novel by Cassandra Clare.

It goes without saying that fans of the books will love the manga. The illustrations by Hyekyung Baek are gorgeous and the story remains true to the plot, managing to somehow get a lot of side-plots into the book even though it’s necessarily shorter. The manga keeps a lot of Clare’s jokes and wit, too, and they’re actually funnier with the visual aid. This cuts both ways, of course, and things like Jem’s illness are more striking with illustrations. But it’s a really fun way to reread the books and relive your love of the characters.

The best thing about the manga version is that it might appeal to people who otherwise won’t read the book, either because it’s in the YA section (don’t get me started) or because they prefer comics (nothing wrong with that). It’s a story that lends itself well to a visual format

Jem and his violin are my OTP.

The plot is, obviously, the same as the novel: Tessa arrives in London at the behest of her brother, or so she believes. But she’s taken by the Dark Sisters, who reveal that Tessa is a shape-shifter and they plan to use her for their own nefarious purposes and then marry her off to someone called The Magister. She’s rescued when Will Herondale and other Shadowhunters end up at the Dark Sisters’ house during a murder investigation. She stays at the institute where she meets Jem, the violinist with a secret, and Jessamine, who doesn’t want to be a Shadowhunter at all, as well as Charlotte and Henry, who run the London Institute. She agrees to help them and they agree to help her track down her brother. Turns out the Magister is trying to build an army of automatons which are very creepy and faceless.

Did I mention it’s gorgeously drawn? And that Will and Jem were basically born to be manga-bishounen? Because they were.

So if you haven’t read The Infernal Devices and you like manga and comics, you should check this out. If you have read them, I assume you’re already a rabid fan of Will or Jem or Tessa or Magnus Freaking Bane, and therefore I don’t have to tell you get yourself a copy. You probably already have 50 and are now using it to wallpaper your room. I mean… I’m certainly not doing that….why do you ask? That would be insane. Speaking of, I HAVE AN EXTRA COPY! You know what that means! GIVEAWAY!

To enter to win one (1) new copy of the Clockwork Angel manga vol. 1, just leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, Oct. 31st. I will have Magnus Bane use his warlock magic (and/or use a Random Number Generator if he’s unavailable) to pick one winner.

Rules: Winner must live in the US or CA. The winner will be drawn on Thursday, November 1st, and posted here in the afternoon. The book will be happily shipped to the winner as soon as possible after they send me their address. Void where prohibited and all that jazz. Entries must be posted by midnight PST on Halloween, 10/31/12. Any comments after that are not eligible. If you comment and do not wish to enter, please say so and I will merely draw a new number (or have Magnus pick a new winner) if it lands on you.

Good? Good.

FTC Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. Nothing else was exchanged.

GGC12 Panels: Chicks Dig Comics

This panel discussion is about women in the comic fan community and addressed the myth of the “fake geek girl” and the new “geek is sexy” marketing that’s been cropping up.

Chicks Dig Comics is an anthology collection by female writers and artists, published by Mad Norwegian Press. The panelists were all contributors, and they are:

Sarah Kuhn. Author of One Con Glory. Her essay is Me vs. Me, and is about why she doesn’t like the conversation of who would win in a fight. She’s not a fan of pitting characters against each other. 
Jill Pantozzi.
She’s writes for The Mary Sue, among other things. Her essay is about the Green Lantern as metaphor for her life and the emotions people go through as fans of comics.
Sheena McNeil. She is currently “Editorix and Chief” of webzine Sequential Tart, which was created to support women in comics. Her essay about the evolution of the zine and her experiences with it, and her knowledge of comics.
Rachel Edidin
. Editor at Dark Horse. She works behind the scenes in comics. Her essay focuses on the editing and how she engages with comics in that way.
Erica McGillivray. Writer and blogger at 6’7″ and Green. She’s also the head of Geek Girl Con. Her essay is about Geek Girl Con and she and others decided to create it after connecting through the cosplay community.
Jen Van Meter. She has written for dc and marvel. She hesitated when asked to contribute because she was worried about writing nonfiction, since it had been a while since she’d done it. But her daughter was having issues at school and it reminded her of being young and relying on horror comics, and wanting to like scary stories. She found Vampirella, among others, so her essay is about how those comics helped her deal with fear and social anxiety.

After introductions, the panels opens by talking about Geek Girl Con and what it means to them, and how comic fandom has changed for women. Kuhn says one thing that’s really great bout GGC is the sense of community. Pantozzi is very thrilled that people and fans are happy to come together online and in person. When she started her own blog, there weren’t a lot of women out there writing about comics and that’s changing now. Twitter has helped the community grow and connect as well.

Kuhn agrees. She even has a Twitter list called “Nerd Girl Mafia.” As far as connecting to other female comic fans, she says things shifted when comment sections popped up on the internet. As much as we hate those, before they existed, you had to email someone to reply, which took a lot of effort. Comments allow other women to say hey, I am a lady and I like these comics too.

McNeil says that when manga peaked in the us, female readership of comics went up. Some places embraced that, and some did not. With manga you didn’t have to go to a comic book store to get it. And there’s a 50/50 chance the author is female.

Edidin got involved tn the comic book world from several different angles at the same time. Writing essays and working at Dark Horse .”One of the things that I’ve found I the feminist comic community.. is that it’s really celebratory.” There are a lot of stereotypes about women competing and being catty, but it is largely the opposite in the comic world, at least as far as she’s observed.

McGillivray came from the Buffy fandom and the world of fanfic writers, both of which are largely female, so when she got into the comic scene, she was like where are all the ladies?

“I’ve probably got ten years on very one here,” Van Meter says. Back when she was a kid who liked comics, the stereotype was closer to true. There weren’t even comic book stores, just comics on spin racks, so there was no way to really interact with other fans until one found the convention circle. Even there, she often felt like she was one of the few women there as a fan and not a girlfriend. When she first started going to SDCC twenty-one years ago, the ladies’ room was always empty. The first time she had to wait in line for the restroom, she was thrilled.

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What I Managed To See At Comic-Con [Part 1]

I had the opportunity to go to Comic-Con this year, though it was for my day job. Due to this, I wasn’t able to see a whole lot, but I wanted to share with you what experiences I could. Unfortunately I must keep my day job top secret [I feel like a superhero, that’s kind of on topic, right?], but here is what I can show you!

This post is brought to you by the amazing collage function in Picasa so it isn’t a million pages long. o/

First, one of the most amazing things about Comic-Con is how it takes over all of downtown like some sort of creep [ten points if you get the reference].

 

I did manage to run into some cool people while I was running around on the floor! I may have super fangirl freaked out when I met Claudio from Coheed and Cambria. I also got to briefly say hello to Marie Lu as she was leaving her signing! I blame work for keeping me away! DX

”]And then of course there was all the awesome stuff in the exhibit hall. I want all the Mass Effect statues in existence, especially the one of Garrus. Also, the X-Men display made me want to cry.

SO MANY SHINIES

There were also cosplayers, though not as many as I thought I would see. Though I bet that many of them stayed out of the exhibit hall, because it’s so crazy in there. Also, I’m possibly lame and was at times too tired to register that there were people in costume around me.

Can you spot Fortune Cookie from Defective Geeks? 8D

And then of course, the swag! I had to avoid a lot of the random free stuff because I was mostly always running around working, but I still managed to come away with some cool stuff.

SWAG!

Some items of note:

  • Signed copy of The Armory Wars by Claudio Sanchez
  • The first three volumes of a comic on the Trojan War signed by the writer/artist  [DONT LAUGH history is cool guys]
  • A signed copy of Legend
  • A signed copy of an issue of Arsenic Lullaby, which has humor that is not for the light of heart at all

Stay tuned for my post titled “How Much of a Supernatural Fangirl I Am.” XD