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Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (Vol 2): Source Code

Nightwing is in the Birds’ neck of the woods, tracking down a shapeshifting metahuman named Gemini. He finds her, but the Birds step in to help when he gets injured. They discover she’s working for someone named Nightingale, and Black Canary volunteers to go undercover to unravel what she wants with teenage metas like Gemini. Meanwhile, Gus, the new Oracle, is starting to act strange. He’s having unprecedented mood swings and is suddenly secretive. He has a connection to a big bad from the Birds’ past, and it’s working its’ way out into the open. Barbara in particular is growing suspicious. Is it possible that Gus’ tenure with the Birds is over, before it’s truly begun?

Being a huge fan of the original run, I am overjoyed that the Rebirth Birds of Prey has the same feel to it. Though this is only Volume 2, the unbreakable bond between these three heroines has already been established. Though they are all different, they come to find a home within each other, and their friendship. That’s what made the original run so special for me, and it’s immensely satisfying to see that theme carry over to Rebirth. There’s no team stronger than the Birds, and it shows – this is the strongest Rebirth title I’m reading.

That said, I feel that this Rebirth title isn’t as welcoming to new readers as other titles. So far, this run relies heavily on past events, and unfortunately there’s not enough page time to explain everything. I recommend the original run to everybody anyway, but I feel it’s almost essential reading to get into the Rebirth run… which wasn’t the point of Rebirth. I almost feel I need to go back and read New 52 Grayson as well, which explains his and Helena’s (Huntress’) past connections in Spyral.

There’s a little bit of everything in this volume. Undercover missions, cyber espionage, heart-to-heart talks, girl power, guest appearances from some of your favorite male counterparts 😉 And, of course, plenty of action! Looking forward to the next volume.

– Kathleen

Benson, Julie, Shawna Benson, Roge Antonio, Claire Roe. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (Vol. 2): Source Code. 2017.

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Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 6): Children of the Gods

A lawyer mysteriously shows up at the site of Wonder Woman’s latest victory over Giganta. He reveals to Diana and Steve that Hercules is dead. Furthermore, he has left a will, in which Diana inherits everything. It is at Hercules’ remote cottage that Diana discovers that she has a brother. A twin brother named Jason. Hercules helped train him to use his godly powers, and leaves Diana coordinates to where he lives, so she can meet him. While Diana is overjoyed to have found her brother, she is worried too. Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, is murdering demi-gods – such as Hercules, herself, and yes, Jason –  to steal their power and feed it to Darkseid, so he can recover his full strength after the events of Dark Nights: Metal. She is nervous about leading Jason into a trap, not realizing that one is being set for her…

This one occurred after Dark Nights: Metal, which I haven’t read, so Jason came out of left field for me. Been meaning to, though, because it looks suuuper cool. It’s incredibly interesting, and a little jarring, that they introduced a sibling for Diana, and a boy at that, after the canon for so long has been that Diana was a miracle child when she was born. On the one hand, it does add a deeper layer of intrigue for the Amazons, who are no strangers to keeping secrets, for the queen to have been given birth to twins instead of one child, and one a boy at that!

On the other hand, it sort of rubs me the wrong way that he is a boy. I admit, I suppose it wouldn’t have worked if Jason were a girl =P But this arc has spent so long thus far establishing Diana as a woman in her own right, that doesn’t need a man in her life, just chooses to have one… thrusting a brother on her whom she feels compelled to meet and love after all this time seems… off. It almost goes against what the writers had established over the last five volumes. I was much more interested in the Grail and Darkseid plotline myself.

There was a lot more action in this volume than in past, because the story has finally moved away from the deep introspection of Rebirth WW’s beginning volumes. The art was well suited to the change of pace. Though there is a lot of action, the lines are clean and crisp, and the panels uncluttered. The colors are also bright and eye-catching. One detail I really enjoyed were actually Grail and Darkseid, how their eyes lit up: there is a halo of color around their eyes whenever they show great power. Hoping the next volume tones Jason down a bit.

– Kathleen

Robinson, James, Carlo Pagulayan, Sergio Davila, and Emanuela Lupacchino. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 6): Children of the Gods. 2018.

Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 3): Summer of Lies

Batgirl and Nightwing get the same tip, for the same spot, at the same time. Which can only mean one thing: it’s a trap! Two girls, identical to someone from their shared past, attack them before jumping off the roof. Someone has brought this Dynamic Duo back together for what can only be one reason: revenge. Batgirl and Robin once worked a case together, way back in their early days of crime-fighting. It involved the Mad Hatter, a new kind of drug, Barbara’s new friend Ainsley, and the growing chemistry between Batgirl and Robin. They’re going to have to reflect back on that summer – on all the painful memories – if they’re going to have a chance at uncovering who’s behind this newest scheme.

I do love me some Nightwing with my Batgirl ;D The plot unfolds in ways you don’t expect and keeps you on your toes as much as our heroes are. The emotional investment that Barbara has in this case is palpable – just as in the flashbacks, we’re shown that it’s difficult for her to keep Barbara and Batgirl separate. The feels stakes are pretty high here. A nice artistic touch was the sepia tone that was overlaid on the flashbacks – infused with a little more golden light that perfectly recalls looking back on summers past.

Before the main story, there are two one-shots. The first is about Batgirl’s investigation of a ghost in the local Y’s pool. The second, and infinitely more adorable, is about the disappearance of internet celebrity pets – and how Batgirl finds herself teamed up with Catwoman, of all people, to recover them! Eagerly looking forward to more~

– Kathleen

Larson, Hope, Chris Wildgoose, Jose Marzan Jr., and Mat Lopes. Batgirl (Rebirth, Vol. 3): Summer of Lies. 2018.

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 5): Heart of the Amazon

After travelling the world, working with the military, bringing peace to all, Wonder Woman could use a little down time. The perfect opportunity arrives when Etta’s brother is getting married, and Etta could use a plus one. When a bomb is uncovered at the reception, however, it looks like business as usual. There are some who think that Diana’s blood – her Amazon DNA – could make them strong, make them a hero. There are others who think that her blood could cure countless diseases. And still others want her blood to make an army. Whoever they are, they used Diana’s friends to get to her – and Diana is out for blood herself.

This is the first volume that Shea Fontana wrote. I didn’t find it quite up to par with Vols. 1-4, which Greg Rucka wrote. Those are undoubtedly some hard shoes to fill, but I just didn’t find the same emotional resonance in this volume as in Rucka’s work. This volume is a lot more action-oriented. I found myself struggling with the DNA plot point – Diana’s powers are blessed upon her by the patrons, not as a result of any superhuman gene. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to WANT her DNA. I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief for this one. The artists varied from issue to issue – which is really just a personal nitpick as the art was all great =P My absolute favorite continues to be Jenny Frisson’s variant covers. They’re! Just!! So!!! GREAT!!!! I LOVE THEM!!!!!

Also included in this volume are stories from Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman Annual #1, which features this gem:

ww-annual-kaiju-fetch

Yes. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, playing fetch with a Godzilla-type creature. My heart can’t take it 😭

– Kathleen

Fontana, Shea, Mirka Andolfo, and David Messina. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 5): Heart of the Amazon. 2018.

The Flash (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Lightning Strikes Twice

Barry Allen became the Flash when he was struck by lightning and gained access to the Speedforce. For a long time, he was the only one. But now, all over Central City, a whole bunch of citizens have been struck by lightning and have gained the same powers Barry has. Some, like Barry’s friend August Heart, love their newfound abilities; others are scared and want to go back to a normal life. Dr. Meena Dhawan, a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, has been inviting those who’ve been affected to train with her, to learn to control their abilities. The Speedforce granted her the ability to sense the Speedforce in others. Together, Barry, August, and Meena are helping the new speedsters and protecting them from a new threat. A speedster called Godspeed is targeting these new recruits and stealing their speed. Barry feels responsible, but he’s not alone anymore and thus doesn’t have to shoulder the burden on his own. When the identity of Godspeed is revealed, he thinks it may just be better to go it alone…

This one had a lot packed in it. The first issue had to do a lot with the Batman/The Flash: The Button (2017), which I hadn’t read, so I felt a little lost. I’ve heard it’s good, so I’ll have to pick it up =P After that, it dropped off, and the story picks up by itself. There was a lot going on in the story here, but everything ties together nicely. By the end I wanted to go back and see what I’d missed! The art is serviceable. The figures are very angular, every edge and corner sharp. It works great in the action scenes with all the lightning, but just looks plain odd in slower scenes. This is one of the better Rebirth titles I’ve picked up, and will be reading more!

– Kathleen

Williamson, Joshua, Carmine di Giandomenico, and Ivan Plascencia. The Flash (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Lightning Strikes Twice. 2017.

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Godwatch

Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is definitely not a Wonder Woman fan. She’s watched Diana on the news, read about her in the papers, and thinks she is a sham. It doesn’t help that two of her gods, Phobos and Deimos, sons of Ares, have stolen her daughter’s soul. They’re holding it ransom until Veronica can lead them to Themyscira. Veronica sacrifices much in the journey, in developing the technology to get there. But to save her daughter – Veronica will do just about anything.

Rebirth WW does a lot of skipping around in the story. I can see why they utilize that method – revealing hidden truths and all that – but it’s not ideal for light reading. I really had to pay attention! That said, I loved that they went in a slightly different direction in this volume and made Veronica Cale the focus. You see her make the descent from a woman who just wants to save her daughter to a villain, and neither you nor her realizes until it’s too late. Cale is an excellent foil for Diana. I’m kind of a sucker for villain stories like this, and I enjoyed it very much.

Bilquis Evely’s art is lovely in it’s subtlety. The focus is more on expression as opposed to great detail. The color palette gets more muted and darker the more you read, echoing Cale’s descent into villainy. My favorite part had to be Jenny Frison’s covers at the back, though… I can’t get enough of them!!!

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Bilquis Evely, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Godwatch. 2017.

Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death

Typically not a DC fan, and definitely not a Batman fan, I decided to give the rebooted Batwoman a try. Kathleen has recently enjoyed previous recent titles about her such as Hydrology and Elegy and had great things to say about both, so I gave it a go.

I went in totally unfamiliar with Batwoman, so I appreciated her origin story in the beginning to get know what shaped her into who she is now. As a child her twin sister and mother are killed in a failed kidnapping (although you just know her twin will reapppear again- if not in this volume, a future one). We then see Kate as a cadet at West Point and when her sexuality is discovered, she won’t deny it, thus she is kicked out. Next the heiress is seen partying it up, but it’s obviously a mask to hide her pain.

Then the timeline really starts to dart around. Kate has a “lost” year between leaving West Point and becoming Batwoman. She is stranded on the island of Coryana with a head injury and falls in love with her beautiful benefactor Safiyah, who is the leader of this lawless nation. Safiyah’s previous lover Tahani is pushed aside for Kate, which fills Tahani with rage. Years later Tahani is back for revenge and the storyline becomes James Bondish, with an actual Moneypenny character. Kate is very unlikable at this stage, and Tahani speaks some truth to her, which Kate just ignores. As soon as I finally was becoming comfortable in this one stage of her life, there is another timeline jump into the future.  No mater what timeline she is in, Kate jumps from one lover to another, and is condescending to all. I’ve never been a fan of “bad boys who need redemption” character types, so I wasn’t a fan even with the gender switch. No matter who you are, or love, be nice. I guess she’s similar to Batman- whose brooding nature I have never liked.

Three artists are listed, and as such sometimes the art style shifts from one issue to the next. All illustrate well, with a dark color palette and varied panel structure. It’s certainly not the art I have a problem with. What I don’t get is her supposed secret identity. Hello- her flaming red hair is a huge clue! Is everyone supposed to think that Batwoman can’t be Kate because Kate has short red hair while Batwoman has long? Its a wig people, attached to her cowl!  And does she she wear it under her clothes? There was one scene in which she is dressed as Kate and one second later she is in her costume. I actually looked to see if there was a page, or at least a panel, that would explain it.

I received this digital copy through NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review. I let the excitement of being approved for the volume to override my usual avoidance of Batman stories. Truth be told, Kathleen would have been a better reviewer for the story. I’m not sure if me not liking it had to do with my distaste for Kate or if the time jumping made it too choppy for me to enjoy. While I welcomed the needed LGTBQ superhero storyline, Kate wasn’t the right person to carry it off.

-Nancy

Bennett, Marguerite & James Tynion IV. Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death. 2017.

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth

Diana is completely devastated after learning she has never been home. She has been deceived into thinking she’d been able to go back and forth between Themyscira and Man’s World at will. Her mind breaks, and Steve hastily admits her to a psychiatric hospital before fleeing to find Etta. Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is still after Wonder Woman, thinking she can lead them to Themyscira. Steve, Etta, and Barbara Ann need to throw them off the trail. But Cale is relentless, and it’s only a matter of time before she catches up to them. How can they stop her when what she wants – Wonder Woman and the way to Themyscira – may be lost forever?

This comic hit me harder than it should have. Wonder Woman losing her sense of self, becoming hurt and confused, is very emotional. Rucka is not afraid to let her be human. With this volume, we are reminded that our heroes are human, too. We are also reminded that we can pick ourselves up, forge on, and eventually our faith will be rewarded. This is by far the best Rebirth title I’ve picked up, and I’m eagerly looking forward to more.

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Liam Sharp, and Laura Martin. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth. 2017.

Nightwing (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Better than Batman

Dick Grayson is, well, Dick Grayson again. He’s finished with Spyral, he’s back from the (figurative) dead, and he’s got his secret identity back. There is one last bit of spy business he needs to take care of, though: the Parliament of Owls. They threatened Damian Wayne in order to get Dick to join them, and that is something Dick won’t stand for. He infiltrates their ranks once again, but this time they pair him with someone called Raptor. Though he’s a liar and a thief, Dick can’t help but feel like he can trust him. Almost like… like they have a connection. When the bond between them is revealed to be more than coincidence, can Dick continue to trust him? Can he even carry out this last spy mission without losing himself?

Well, the title got it right. The Rebirth Nightwing is way better than Rebirth Batman. The thing about Dick is, he’s got most of Batman’s characteristics and morals, but overall wrapped in a cheerier and (dare I say) more attractive package. Little hints are dropped as to Raptor’s secret identity throughout the book, leaving us readers hanging on the edge of our seats to see the mystery revealed. The art wasn’t as detailed and defined as I’d like, but the story was more than enough to keep me going.

– Kathleen

Seeley, Tim, Javier Fernandez, and Christ Sotomayor. Nightwing (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Better than Batman. 2017.

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