Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

Birds of Prey

Best Reads of 2016

So many good reads this year- some brand new series, or some that were new to us! This also marks a year that we have been blogging- as we created this blog for a school project we were working on in November 2015 and truly started adding content in December and early January. It has been quite a fun journey, and a lesson in time management to meet our (self-imposed) deadlines of posting! We’ve made friends with other bloggers, and found our tribe at WordPress!

We are connecting our best books of the year with a meme we are trying for the first time- Hype or Like Friday that we discovered on Goodreads. This meme was created by Jillian, Larkin and Britt who are book bloggers that want to share their opinions about overly hyped books.

locke-and-key-series

Nancy: My reading highlight was the Locke & Key series, written by Joe Hill and beautifully illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. Such an epic story- it had complex characters, moral dilemmas, a malevolent evil and an atmospheric setting that sucks you in.

6307040

 

Kathleen: My favorite thing that I started reading this year was Fables (Vol. 1 of the Deluxe Edition). Timeless fairy tale figures living in modern New York City – what more could you ask for? The characterization is excellent, the plot twisting and riveting, and though I don’t normally like the art to vary too much, they really pick artists who fit the style of the story at any given time. Absolutely a must-read.

 

Revival

Nancy: Another series that I found outstanding was Revival, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Mike Norton.  It was an atypical living dead story, in which a handful of dead suddenly came back to life. They quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. Seven of the planned eight volumes are out, and I eagerly look forward to the finale of the series early next year.

 

61kihhzxy3l-_sx328_bo1204203200_Kathleen: George Perez’s Wonder Woman (review coming soon!) is the acclaimed 1980’s reboot of your favorite heroine. It’s a great origin story for first-time readers of Wonder Woman, as it’s easy to follow and heavily borrows the mythology from her Greek roots, which is always fascinating. The art is richly detailed, colorful, and full of light, as befitting the Amazon princess. Plus, cheesy ’80s dialogue galore! =P

 

 

 

The Outside Circle

Nancy: The Outside Circle, written by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and illustrated by Kelly Mellings,  tells the fictional tale of a Canadian First Nations man that comes to terms with his heritage and who begins to take responsibility for his life. The story is based on the reality that many Native people face (in Canada and the US), for the government took away thousands of children from their families over the years, breaking the circles of community and fragmenting generations of people with no connection to their tribe anymore.

 

18630542

Kathleen: Seconds is not your typical coming-of-age story. Yeah, Katie is a 20-something who struggles with owning her own business, making friends, and with letting go of her ex… but she also gets a rare opportunity to start over by eating a magic mushroom. Soon, she starts eating one every night, but the more she tries to fix, the more she messes up. And the more she makes the house spirit angry with her. Rounded forms and warm colors belie the serious message within.

 

 

Kingdom Come

Nancy: Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Alex Ross was praised by IGN with the statement, “One of the greatest comic book stories of all time”, and they were not far off the mark. I am typically more a Marvel fan, but this DC story was fantastic for the moralistic debate storyline. The artwork is top-notch, with a distinctive photo-realism look and holds up 20 years after first being published. This book stays true to each character’s back story, so kudos to the team’s familiarity with the history of all the superheroes!  As such, the Epilogue was a perfect ending.

 

23862438

Kathleen: High-fantasy readers, rejoice, for there is a comic out there just for you. Kurt Busiek’s The Autumnlands takes us to a world where animals speak, weave magic, and build cities in the sky. When their magic starts disappearing, the collective of wizards casts one last spell to bring a savior to their world – but the cost is too great, sending their city plummeting to the plains below. Can they survive what horrors await them in the night? Can their champion really save them? Features gorgeous, richly detailed art and beautiful writing.

 

 

invincibleNancy: The book Invincible took me by surprise this year, for it is overshadowed by writer Robert Kirkman’s more well-known project (The Walking Dead) but I felt the world-building in this one volume was as strong as DC & Marvel’s superhero worlds. We meet Mark, a new superhero, who is the son of Omni-Man. Later his world is turned upside down, with a twist that will surprise you, and his life changes forever with this new knowledge. This new development is a game-changer and sets up endless stories for the future. Sadly, this series is drawing to a close soon, but I will enjoy binge-reading the rest of the books soon.

 

600full-birds-of-prey3a-vol-1-of-like-minds-cover

Kathleen: My last one was a toss-up between Birds of Prey and Bombshells… and Birds of Prey won. I know! Strike me down where I stand!!! They both feature a wide and varied cast of female superheroes, which I love, but Birds of Prey has the core three whom you can’t help rooting for. It has been wonderful to see how Barbara, Dinah, and Helena come together and become a family despite their differences. Exotic locales, action-packed stories, and hilarious dialogue have made this series near and dear to my heart.

 

There you have it – our ten best books/series of 2016. Thank you for all the support, comments, and friendship that you’ve all given us. We are so happy to have you all with us =D Happy holidays!!! ❤

– Nancy & Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 7): Perfect Pitch

79364
Simone, Gail, Paulo Siqueira, Robin Riggs, and Joe Bennett. Birds of Prey (Vol. 7): Perfect Pitch. 2007.

After Barbara’s recovery, the Birds are back in the game. Helena is infiltrating Gotham’s mobs, gaining their trust as the daughter of one of their own, to bring them down from the inside once and for all. Calculator is seeing a strange symbol everywhere – Oracle’s symbol. He will stop at nothing to find out what it is and who’s behind the green mask. He figures out who is in her inner circle and kidnaps Savant. The Birds must go up against some of the most powerful villains on Earth in order to get him back… including Deathstroke.

Halfway through the book, the arc picks back up after Infinite Crisis. Basically it’s “Birds of Prey, One Year Later” =P Dinah is absent from the Birds for now – deep in the jungles of Asia, she undergoes brutal training to gain special experience and training. The Birds have found a replacement, though – Lady Shiva. Barbara especially wishes for Canary’s speedy return. Can the Birds keep Shiva under control? Can Dinah survive the training she’s putting herself through?

It was nice to have the spotlight on Helena a little more in the first half of this issue. I have kind of a soft spot for Huntress XD We get to see a little bit of her day job, a little bit of her working alone, and a little bit of her mobster daughter. I may try another of her solo comics; the few I’ve read I didn’t particularly care for. The second half might seem a little out there but they do reference an earlier volume that makes it all make sense =P Bruce Timm’s art makes an appearance at one point which is always fun X3

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within

79363
Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Tom Derenick, and Joe Bennett. Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within. 2006.

The Birds are back in quite a few adventures here. They tackle a lonely and grieving teenage girl who can absorb the magical powers of other people; a specter named Harvest in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, who is stealing the youth of her victims; and a drug lord and the Twelve Brothers in Silk in Singapore connected to the Gotham mob. Throughout all these adventures, the Birds are having their own inner struggles. Helena is just starting to feel like part of the family; could it be that someone has an ulterior motive for her being there? Barbara is more powerful than ever, due to the bit of Brainiac inside her. But could it turn deadly? When the Birds finally break, can they be put back together?

This volume was awesome. It was super action packed, but also had a lot of inner conflicts within the team and each individual member. The title is very appropriate. I think the thing I like most about this series is, even as all kinds of crap is hitting the fan, it still manages to have funny and touching moments. There’s a bit in here where Helena tells a guy the night they shared was so bad, she’d remain abstinent for the rest of her life. I was at work reading this and I just about DIED XD And, pleasant surprise, it contains one of my favorite comic panels of all time:

IMG_20160702_140052_325

❤ ❤ ❤

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 5): Between Dark & Dawn

79367
Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Ron Adrian, Jim Fern, Eric Battle, and Eduardo Barreto. Birds of Prey (Volume 5): Between Dark & Dawn. 2006.

Three kids, dressed as superheroes who have already died, have killed themselves in quick succession. It bothers the Birds, and they send Huntress to Kinder Pines, Oregon, where all the kids were last. There, she infiltrates a cult led by a Soveriegn Brusaw, and she’s not quite sure what to think. The kids seem all right, and the Father seems genuine… up until she realizes that her backup, Vixen, no longer recognizes Huntress and has turned against her. In trying to remotely investigate, Oracle suddenly collapses and has a seizure, and soon she realizes it’s not just her inside her head anymore. Meanwhile, the Birds have gained a new member: Savant, who kidnapped and tortured Dinah on one of their first missions. Barbara has tasked him with clearing out a major crime lord in Gotham. This causes uneasiness in everyone, especially Dinah, despite believing whole-heartedly in second chances. Can Huntress get Vixen to snap out of whatever trance she’s in? Will Barbara survive?

You can really see the bond between the Birds tightening in this issue. Everyone has their own personality and their own code, but they share a mutual respect for each other and are even becoming friends – maybe a family. Simone is a great writer. The art is still superb, action-packed and dynamic. Every time I read one of these I fall in love with the series all over again. I might have to start buying them…

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe 4th of July!

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 4): Sensei & Student

449596-birds_of_prey_sensei___student_1_00
Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Michael Golden, Cliff Richards, Alex Lei, Ruy Jose, Mike Manley, and Scott Hanna. Birds of Prey (Vol. 4): Sensei and Student. 2005.

This one is way overdue and I’m sorry! I have so many comics and graphic novels on my to-read list and I have a hard time just picking one sometimes XD

Black Canary is in Hong Kong on a personal mission – her sensei is dying of cancer. She runs into Lady Shiva, in town for the same reason. They are targeted by a gang, who was paid to keep them busy while someone poisoned their sensei and his entire household. Canary and Shiva, determined to avenge him, must learn to set aside their differences to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Oracle is dealing with her own issues. She keeps giving her field agents the wrong information without meaning to. She discovers a virus has gotten into her computer system, and there are federal agents waiting to arrest her right outside her own door.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the last issue, but I fell in love with the series all over again. Simone’s writing is upbeat and fast-paced. There was a great flashback scene of Dinah’s mom, the first Black Canary, and an awesome scene with Wonder Woman, too! That made me happy X3 There are other characters that appear briefly as well. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I love this series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue!

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol 3): Of Like Minds

 

600full-birds-of-prey3a-vol-1-of-like-minds-cover
Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Alex Lei, and Rob Lea. Birds of Prey (Vol. 3): Of Like Minds. 2004.

Finally got to read and review this one! =D

Oracle and Black Canary are at it again: this time, scaring Andrew Fisher, CEO, out of stealing the retirement funds of his employees. When he posts a suicide note, Dinah races to his home to stop him, only to be confronted by the man who blackmailed Fisher for the money in the first place. Savant subdues Canary and holds her hostage, telling Oracle he’ll let Canary go for one thing: Batman’s identity. Seeing no other options, Barbara calls on Huntress for help. Can the two put aside their differences to save Black Canary?

I had been enjoying the series so far, but this one was BY FAR my favorite. There was enough action to keep it going and enough humor to keep it fun. The dialogue between the women, though still cheesy, seemed a little more genuine, probably because it was written by a woman. The art was a huge step-up from the previous volumes, much more modern. I adored everyone’s character designs. I think I’m addicted. There are more of these reviews coming for sure.

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol 2): Old Friends, New Enemies

51mjp2jfp3l-_sy344_bo1204203200_
Dixon, Chuck, Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Greg Land, and Drew Geraci. Birds of Prey, Vol. 2: Old Friends, New Enemies. 2003.

The Birds of Prey series continues in this volume. Black Canary and Oracle are working together to fight crime around the globe. The adventures outlined here take us from Gotham to Rheelasia to investigate the disappearances of important people, to Minnesota, where a vacationing Canary stumbles upon a Kobra plot… and the Loch Ness monster? Meanwhile, the Army is tracking the digital signature of a hacker who broke into their computer system – and it originates from Gotham City!

Oracle and Black Canary are still testing the boundaries of their relationship in this volume. It’s as much about the development of their friendship as much as it is about fighting crime. There is also an emphasis in the early issues on Barbara and how capable she is even though she’s in a wheelchair. Even though she isn’t Batgirl anymore, it’s hard to deny that she’s still a superhero. Canary, of course, is the woman on the ground, but it was great to see Barbara get some field action as well.

This is the last of the Chuck Dixon run, and the fan favorite Gail Simone series is coming up next! I’m sooo excited to read it finally =D

-Kathleen

Birds of Prey: Volume 1

 

4887856-01
Dixon, Chuck, et al. Birds of Prey: Volume 1. 2002.

While I’m a huge fan of the 2002 TV series “Birds of Prey,” (I should rewatch that again and probably post about it later), I had never read any of the comics before going into it. This volume is not the start of the “official” first Birds of Prey run, but of the one-shot issues by Chuck Dixon leading up to it (source). They aren’t all chronological, so I’ll give a brief synopsis of each.

  • Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey: Dinah Lance – the Black Canary – has just left the Justice League and is trying to start a new life. Barbara Gordon, as Oracle, contacts her to investigate the Green Brotherhood, an eco-terrorist group sabotaging billionaire Nick Devine’s philanthropic projects in third world countries.
  • Birds of Prey: Revolution: Oracle and Black Canary team up once again to stop a white slavery ring in the Caribbean.
  • Showcase ’96 #13: Black Canary and Lois Lane fight their way out of a warehouse full of disillusioned workers – by giving them a little help to believe in themselves.
  • Birds of Prey: Manhunt: This 4-issue run co-stars Huntress and Catwoman as the Birds reluctantly team up with them to take out Archer Braun- a secretive man with whom each of these ladies has a bone to pick!

Most of the authors and artists are the same for these different comics; as a result, there is a nice consistency here that might not show up in other collections of multiple runs. As it is, there are still slight variations on character designs and art styles from issue to issue. For example, Black Canary/Oracle reminded me of The Dark Knight Returns in it’s desaturated palette and high contrast between light and shadow. The color and tone get much richer in Revolution. The art in Showcase reminded me more of older comics with it’s stylized characters, bright colors, and often simple, monochrome backgrounds. Manhunt was a little more expressive with the panel layout, making it feel even more action-oriented and fast-paced. Overall I’m not a fan of Canary’s design in these – I love her original leather jacket and fishnets, and ’90s fashion was something else (this is coming from a ’90s kid mind you).

Of the four, my personal favorite was Manhunt. I adore crossovers and I loved how the four women interacted with each other and had different motives for wanting to get the bad guy X,D A central thread throughout was Canary and Oracle trying to understand and communicate with each other. It could go over into “girl talk” sometimes, which I found a little cheesy but otherwise didn’t mind. Overall it’s a fun collection, but I can’t wait to get to the Gail Simone era!

-Kathleen

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑