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From the Archives: Batgirl (2008) #1

batgirl(2009)0001Batgirl Rising part one: Point of New Origin

Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Penciller: Lee Garbett
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: DC Comics

[ This review originally written for and published at comiXtreme/cxPulp some time back while the issue was new–within the first days to a week that the issue was available for sale. ]

This issue opens on an action sequence. Cars take off for a race no one can win, in a scam that has drawn Batgirl to the scene. While she deals with the criminal element, we see that Batman and Robin are keeping an eye on things. Batgirl removes her mask, and we find out who she is. As she goes about her everyday life, we get a flashback sequence that shows how she came by the costume and what led to the previous Batgirl vacating it. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon spends some time with her dad as they adjust to living near one another again (a plot point begun this past spring in the Oracle mini-series during Battle for the Cowl). As Batgirl is once again drawn into action, we see that she has a long way to go to measure up to her own ideals. The issue closes with her meeting someone who’ll be either mentor or foe.
The issue’s art doesn’t blow me away–it’s good, solid stuff, but that’s something I really expect from any comic I read. I like that all the characters I know are recognizable visually and not just contextually. While I’m sure there are subtleties I’m not picking up on, for a new reader such as myself, the style works just fine and does what a comic’s art should do.

My only real complaint with the art is the structure of the cover. We’re shown the title character from the waist to nose, with an emphasis on her…feminine curves (where the outline of a bat–her personal logo–is situated). I assume the intent is simply to emphasize the character’s chest-emblem since we’re not supposed to know who is actually in the costume. Unfortunately, the outline of a bat around the word "Batgirl" denoting the comic’s title takes away from that…and makes it seem there’s a bit of emphasis on Batgirl’s chest.

The story itself isn’t bad, though it doesn’t have me all that excited about what’s to come. I’m mainly interested in seeing what’s to come with Barbara Gordon and how she handles the new Batgirl than I am Batgirl herself. I expect I’ll give this at least a couple more issues to really draw me in. If I were to decide from this first issue alone, I do think I’d give the series a pass for now and see if anything develops, then play catch-up if interested in the developments.

All in all, a solid first issue as first issues go…and it’s very much to the writer’s–or DC’s–or WHOEVER’s–credit that the "mystery" over "Who IS Batgirl?" has been more for the solicitations on the series than some point within the series itself. That we have the identity of this Batgirl on page 6 of the first issue (the title page of the issue) allows me the interest I’m sure I would NOT have had if the identity was kept secret from the readers.

If you’re interested in Barbara Gordon, or the Gotham characters in general, or just this side of the "bat-family," this issue is worth picking up–at the least it gives you the debut of a new Batgirl, context for her and potentially where she’s going, and you get to see Babs’ story continue and where that may lead in the near future.

Quantum and Woody #5 [Review]

quantumandwoody005Writer: James Asmus
Art: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Pin-Up: Tom Fowler and Brian Reber
Cover Art: Andrew Robinson, Lee Garbett, David Lopez, Mike McKone
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Now that they’ve accepted they’re stuck together…Eric (Quantum) and Woody are sharing Eric’s apartment. Of course, Eric hadn’t counted on Woody ALSO bringing the goat (now named Vincent van Goat) and the “teenage” clone of the woman who murdered their father into the mix. As Eric goes to work and returns the weapons Woody snuck out, he tasks Woody with finding a job. Instead, Woody decides to house-hunt, and winds up losing Eric’s car in the process. Eric meanwhile finds that he’s come to the attention of his boss, who lays out an interesting proposal.

Though I’ve now read all of the original Q&W issues, I’ve never looked all that deeply into them…but at least on the surface, this continues to very much come off as being in the same spirit. The situations are modified, more modern…but this series fits right with the original to me.

I don’t know where the story’s actually going, though I recognize Eric’s boss’s name and so have a certain suspicion there. I do have a better sense of Eric’s annoyance (and Woody’s deservance of being the target of said annoyance) in this series so far. 

The art isn’t bad, though something seems a bit “off” and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s a bit of a shift, but everyone’s still recognizable and it’s not hard to follow what’s going on.

As a bonus, we get a random pinup page in the back…which is rather amusing in itself, as well as refreshing: it’s a pin-up page, meaning full-page one-page art piece…but get this: it’s NOT A VARIANT COVER! Someone, somewhere, actually remembers that an artist can do a piece of art like this without it HAVING TO BE a VARIANT!

All in all, a good issue, and as billed on the cover, the start of a new arc and thus a better jumping-on point than the previous issue (especially when you consider the first TPB is due out soon at the “bargain” $9.99 price point of all the Valiant vol. 1s). If you’re already following the title, it’s worth continuing. If not, you might be better served grabbing the paperback to read the first/origin story and if you like it, continuing on.

X-O Manowar #6 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

X-O Manowar #5 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Batgirl #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Batman #683 [Review]

Batman: What the Butler Saw

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Lee Garbett
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Tony Daniel)
Publisher: DC Comics

DC could really benefit from a “previously” page. I know I say that quite a bit, but it’s something that–especially in the contemporary written-for-the-collection environment–just seems so very practical that I still don’t quite “get” why they haven’t followed Marvel’s example in this.

This issue resumes the journey to certain points throughout the history of Batman as the imprisoned Batman struggles against his Apokaliptian foes. As the struggle climaxes, we see what’s been happening in this post-RIP story–and also get clarification as to what DID happen at the end of RIP.

While I’m not that familiar with Garbett’s art–nor is he Tony Daniel–the art works here, and being the same as the previous issue feels less a departure than continuation with the “new” or “different” art team’s style. This isn’t the greatest art I’ve ever seen, but it is far better than a lot of what can be found in certain other comics.

Having had a couple weeks to cool after the disappointment of RIP’s conclusion, this feels slightly less the trainwreck I declared the previous issue, though this issue holds a similar disappointment as we now have to follow Batman into Final Crisis for his story (and presumably for whatever has led to the RIP arcs in Robin and Nightwing as well as the upcoming Battle for the Cowl and whatnot).

The writing is also slightly less frustrating here–where the previous issue was choppy and lacked context, this issue actually reveals what is going on, which provides perfect context for the choppiness, and shows that Morrison is perfectly able to deliver short stories with payoff instead of dragging stuff across numerous issues.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a jump-on point, though if you’re following Final Crisis and want more of what happen(s/ed) to Batman after that early issue he was taken off the board in, this arc’s for you–it is, after all, marked with “Final Crisis” on its cover.

The cover is another fine image from Alex Ross…and another that I feel is quite poster-worthy.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Batman #682 [Review]

Batman: The Butler Did It

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Lee Garbett
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Tony Daniel)
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s not much to this issue, it seems. Bruce and Alfred have a conversation about his having chosen to become “a bat” and how events throughout his career have shaped who/what he is. We’re treated to images from throughout the Batman’s history, as if every Batman comic you’ve ever read has a place in the current Batman’s life.

The art by Garbett isn’t bad–it’s certainly a depature from the RIP arc, but it works well enough here. I don’t recognize the name, so am not sure if I’ve seen this artist’s work elsewhere, but in this issue, I have no problem with it in and of itself.

Story-wise, I feel rather lost and disappointed. RIP was vastly over-hyped, and where I expected some brilliant swerve that would serve to explain 2+ years’ worth of Batman stories in a satisfactory manner, I found the closing of that story anti-climactic. And a mere ONE week later to have the next issue and have no reference to RIP or any “death” of Batman is a letdown in itself. That I can hardly follow this issue’s narrative–I have read Batman for 19 1/2 years, comics for 20 years, and have delved even further back in my reading through the years–and this issue feels choppy and “trippy.” Is Bruce hallucinating? Is that what RIP was? Is this what he saw while drugged out by the Black Glove? Or is this Alfred’s recollection of events? If so, WHEN was this? Is this before or after RIP? Is someone musing to themselves, “talking” to Bruce, or is Bruce actually there?

Honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend this issue. I almost feel suckered–after all, perhaps it’s important since it was rushed out THE VERY FIRST WEEK after RIP ended. If you’ve actually enjoyed the ending of RIP, perhaps you’ll enjoy this–perhaps you actualy “get” Mr. Morrison’s style here.

As for me…this is a trainwreck. I don’t want to look, but some part of me can’t help but look, and grouse at what I wind up seeing.

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

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