Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five More Comic Reviews

Got even more comics lately, but I've not really reviewed them. The issues in question are X-23 #18 thru #20, Supergirl #1 and Demon Knights #1.

X-23 #18
Story: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda
Cover: Kalman Andrasofszky
This is the second part of the Adventures in Babysitting arc, in which Laura is asked to babysit for Sue Storm and Reed Richards. Franklin and Valeria, their children, quickly proceed to cause havoc and summon a dragon into New York. With the help of Hellion, the dragon is quickly subdued, but their problem just gets worse.

First of all, I've got to say I love Takeda's art. Laura looks amazing. She can still look mean, and angry, but there's a hint of innocence and sadness about her, which I think works really well with her character. It's also quite unique in my limited experience, and even the busiest scenes tend to be fairly clear. My only issue with the art is Laura's expression sometimes doesn't change as often as I feel it should, leaving some scenes to look a little as if the art was recycled. However, it doesn't really take away from the story.

The writing continues to be good, too, with each character feeling distinct. It does seem a little bit of a bizarre story, but then again we have a genetically engineered killing machine babysitting two child geniuses, so I suppose it's not all that odd after all.

X-23 #19
Story: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda
Cover: Kalman Andrasofszky
The conclusion to the Adventures in Babysitting arc. I'll not say more, as it'll spoil #18 too.

In terms of art, Takeda is again on top form, and I absolutely adored it. That brings me to my next point. I absolutely hate Andrasofszky's covers. They are terrible. The faces are wrong (see #20 for a good example), Laura is continually shown in her X-Force gear (which she doesn't wear in this part of the series - although there may be some reason behind that), and if you look at the cover for this issue, it looks like some Mills & Boon novel. Ugh. Right, back to the comic.

Liu continues to write Laura really well, and I like how the character dealt with the events around her, but also the moments of light-heartedness. Laura is a fairly serious character with a somewhat horrific past, and I like how Liu breaks that up with moments that show Laura is human, like the rest of us.

I would have liked maybe another issue for this arc, just to explain one or two more things, but that may also have spoiled it a little. Either way, this arc was a pleasure to read and I really enjoyed it.

X-23 #20
Story: Marjorie Liu
Art: Phil Noto
Cover: Kalman Andrasofszky
Ugh. Look at that cover art...

This is sadly the penultimate issue of X-23's now cancelled ongoing, and this two-part story serves to set up Laura's appearances elsewhere, as well as bring the ever-popular Jubilee back into the narrative. At the end of the previous issue, Gambit dropped Laura off with Jubilee. Laura hasn't yet decided whose side she's on, and in this issue we get one step closer to her decision.

Let me say this straight away. I. Love. Phil. Noto's. Artwork. He's not the strongest artist, but I love how he draws characters. They look well-proportioned and their expressions are human, although I must confess I sometimes find the emotions hard to judge as the faces tend to be fairly similar between characters, and at times (I noticed this in Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom) they don't quite match the text.

Liu definitely hits a home run with this issue, though. Laura is accidentally dragged into her past, and some of the scenes are quite shocking and sombre, yet she never feels the need to elaborate on that. We know what's going on is wrong, and we know Laura's motives are right. It doesn't need to be remarked upon any more than it is.

This issue saddens me, though. Liu and Noto make a great team, and this is the last issue they work together on this series, as I believe #21 is drawn by Takeda. I'm also sad because this is the next to last issue of a series I came to late and haven't fully appreciated yet (though I will be buying the HCs in the near future), and in terms of what I've read from Marvel this is by far the best I've encountered. So, thank you to Marjorie Liu, Phil Noto and Sana Takeda for writing and drawing five of the best comics I've read in the past two or so months.

Supergirl #1 (Second Printing)
Story: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Art: Mahmud Asrar (Pencils); Dan Green & Mahmud Asrar (Inks), Dave McCaig (Colours)
Cover: Mahmud Asrar & Dave McCaig
Supergirl is a character I've really only gotten into thanks to Miller's writing in the pre-Flashpoint Batgirl series, in which she was shown as a funny (and cute) character who worked brilliantly alongside Stephanie Brown. I completely forgot to order Supergirl when I did my reboot order last year, and I've only just gotten around to buying it.

This is a new origin for her, I believe, and as such she's perhaps not the character we once knew. In this issue, she has none of the attitude she had in Maelstrom, nor none of the humour of her Batgirl appearances, but instead we're shown her landing on Earth some time after Superman. I felt the writing was fair, but I wasn't exactly sure what to think. I assumed that it was a new origin for her, but I'm curious as to how that would work in the scheme of the reboot.

The art was pretty good, and bar a number of moments of questionable posing, I liked it. Kara's new costume is a little problematic for me (why the exposed legs and knees?), but it's certainly better than a lot of the costumes that saw a debut in the reboot. I like how it's almost a cross between Wonder Woman and Superman, but without the potential for cleavage shots or - as her old costumes often caused - panty flashes from her short skirt. It's almost as if her change in costume has turned her from a cheerleader-esque girl to a young woman.

I was definitely impressed by this issue, though, and I'll certainly be picking up the trades as they come. I want to see how she develops and learns to cope with her powers.

Demon Knights #1 (Second Printing)
Story: Paul Cornell
Art: DiĆ³genes Neves (Pencils), Oclair Albert (Inks), Marcelo Maiolo (Colours)
Cover: Tony Daniel & Tomeu Morey
(This is the cover for the first printing)

Demon Knights is a new series, but one based on existing DC characters. I've heard of some of the characters (Madame Xanadu), but largely this is an unknown for me.

I liked the writing, and its light-hearted nature, but I was a little confused for most of it as I felt as if I was missing something. That said, I was glad to see a female warrior (in the form of Sir Ystina), and I did enjoy the jokes and funnier moments, but that feeling of uncertainty did nag me a little.

The art was perhaps a little busy for me, too, but I did enjoy how varied the characters were in terms of style, and the art did work for it.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this series, and the chances are I'll pick up the trade to hopefully get a bit more context for it, but also just to enjoy it for its sense of humour.


  1. Woo, those X-23 covers are pretty bad. Especially the romance cover. I've heard decent things about Demon Knights, but I've also heard sales aren't too hot on it, and it might get cancelled.

    Those are some weird-ass knee-less boots on Supergirl, but the costume is definitely an improvement over the old version.

    I think DC is gonna run into timeline issues with the reboot sooner or later. I can never quite tell when things are happening in conjunction with other stories.

  2. I could see why that would happen, Ryan. Demon Knights seems very removed from anything else, literally by centuries. If it's cancelled it'll be a shame, because it is a fairly unique title amongst DC's line up.

    As for the timelines - Ugh. Ugh. Batwoman takes place straight after Elegy, and I believe Batman, Inc. takes place around the same time, which could mean Steph is still Batgirl. Batgirl itself takes place a few years after The Killing Joke, but Batgirl appears in it despite it seeming to take place alongside, say, Batgirl et al.

    Oh god, my brain just exploded.

  3. Yup, that's what I call a clusterfluff.