Full disclosure. I stopped reading the New 52 after four comics. I read Mister Terrific #1, Justice League #1, Detective Comics #1, and Swamp Thing #1. Out of those four comics, I was only impressed with Detective Comics and Swamp Thing. Justice League was only “meh” and didn’t feel like it was worth the trouble of continuing at that point, and Mister Terrific was terrible when it had so much potential to be great. Even though I did enjoy Detective Comics and Swamp Thing, I still put them on the back burner in favor of other comics that I wanted to catch up on. Admittedly, I was one of those people who wasn’t that excited to see Barbara assume the Batgirl mantle again. I love Barbara. I really do, but I always felt that she was a more formidable hero as Oracle than as Batgirl. That’s neither here nor there now, and there’s no point in rehashing old thoughts. Moving on...
I decided to try Batgirl for two reasons. I wanted to try another comic from the New 52 to see how I would enjoy it, and I wanted to read more Gail Simone after sort of shying away from her writing because of a volume of The Atom I read that made me want to run away screaming. Friends and fans of Gail assured me that I would enjoy either Birds of Prey or Batgirl much more than I enjoyed The Atom. After some resistance, I finally decided it was time to close my eyes and step off this cliff again.
The Darkest Reflection follows Barbara Gordon who has made her return as Batgirl after an experimental—or at least it sounded experimental—medical procedure returns her ability to use her legs. For those of you not quite familiar with what happened or only have a vague idea of what happened to her, refer to The Killing Joke pre-DCnU. After some downtime rehabbing while living in her father’s home, Barbara decides that it’s time to spread her wings, move out of her father’s house, and take up the mantle of the bat again. What Barbara didn’t count on was her survivor’s guilt and PTSD (which is triggered when she’s faced with guns) making her return to crime fighting more difficult than she’d expected. I enjoyed this much, much, much more than I did The Atom.
At first, I was a little afraid that I might have to put this book down because it started a bit campier that I like. Actually, no, I should explain that better. I love when writers use campy writing to their advantage, but sometimes, I feel like writer’s try too hard with it. In turn, that turns me off because it comes off feeling so artificial and forced and makes it hard for me to enjoy the story. This was one of the main problems that I had with The Atom. There were points in the beginning of this story where I worried I might be traveling down that road again, but after a while, the story found its footing and turned into an enjoyable read.
Barbara is a survivor struggling with the thought of having her legs back. She struggles with conflicting feelings that make her feel blessed for this miracle, but questions why did she, out of all the people in the in the world, deserve such a miracle. After thwarting a murder attempt on a family, Barbara’s next foe challenges her miracle as well and brings out deeper psychological fears.
I really enjoyed the portrayal of Barbara’s struggle. She’s of two minds for most of this comic. She’s a superwoman and a frail all in the same breath. One minute she’s praising herself for her strength and smarts, and the next minute, she doubts herself and if she’s even doing the right thing. She wonders if she’s squandering her miracle by pushing herself too hard, but then she feels that this miracle wasn’t given to her for her to sit by idly. A brief confrontation with Nightwing shows the feelings she stills hold for him while punctuating that she doesn’t want the others to believe that she’s not capable--to the point that she lashes out at him in order to show that she isn’t helpless. She doesn’t want their help. She wants to prove herself, her strength and ability to overcome, to the bat family.
Let me talk briefly about the ending of this comic. No real spoilers, but just some thoughts. When I realized that Barbara’s threat was eliminated in the fourth issues but there were still two issues left in this arc, I was thinking, “Okay?” It ended perfectly, and I was thinking that things were about to get odd since what could you possibly accomplish in two more issues? I was pleasantly surprised. You can say the next two issues in the arc were a mini-story, but still tied into the “reflection” theme showing Barbara what she could’ve been if she hadn’t had family and support.
The first part dealt with accepting that miracles happened to people whether they deserved them or not and that there’s no one who can decide that someone is undeserving of such a miracle, even if it’s a personal miracle. The second part dealt more personally with the idea that not everyone may see his or her miracle as a miracle. It showed how fragile the line between miracle and damnation is in some people’s mind, and it showed a thing about compassion and understanding, as well
Overall, this was entertaining. There were some hiccups for me, and I’m back to questioning why it’s so easy for some people to find out who the bat family is over other more intelligent criminals. That's a general annoyance of mine with Batman and the bat family, not something that's limited to Gail herself. However, I still enjoyed the story and appreciated it for showing Barbara’s return as a struggle that she’s working to overcome for physical and psychological reasons. I’ll definitely read more of the Batgirl books.(less)
Never have I respected Superman as much as I did after reading this comic. Superman and I have a rocky relationship. I have never been a big fan of hi...moreNever have I respected Superman as much as I did after reading this comic. Superman and I have a rocky relationship. I have never been a big fan of his because he’s just too perfect. And I have a hard time caring for perfect characters. I won’t go into that rant again. This isn’t about that.
This is set in an AU (alternate universe). Superman has retreated to solitude after a hero named Magog is acquitted of killing Joker—who went on a killing spree in Metropolis, a bender that resulted in Lois’ death. When humanity expresses that Magog is where superheroism should go, Superman leaves them to that, seeming to lose quite a bit of faith in people.
Shortly thereafter, humanity learns that heroes left unchecked terrorize the just and the unjust alike and aren’t too different from the “villains.” They only care about fighting and destroying what they personally perceive as threats to the people (such as one “hero” attacking immigrants), much of which is personal prejudices and biases.
Then, Wonder Woman appeals to Superman to come back after a devastating battle between the “good” guys and the “bad” guys leaves Kansas in ruins and millions dead. Reluctantly, Superman returns, but things don’t go as smoothly as hoped when he’s faced with opposition from this new school of heroes, enemies, and even old allies, namely Batman.
This seemed to be a commentary on old school superhero comics versus today’s ultra-violent, grim “heroes” who seem more intent on destroying half the city than saving human lives with Superman representing how heroes used to be and Magog representing these new “heroes.”
I thought it was interesting (and superb storytelling) that the story isn’t told from any of the heroes’ point of views. Instead, the story is told by Norman McCay, a minister and a friend of Sandman who has “inherited” Sandman’s powers after his death. McCay is struggling with his faith and, like Superman, has lost some faith in humanity. Before his death, Wesley Dodds (Sandman) had apocalyptic visions that most people thought were the result of senility. He passed these visions on to McCay.
A being known as Spectre uses McCay to bear witness to the madness unfolding between the heroes and tells him that he must ultimately pass judgment on them, to decide who is right and who is wrong, a decision that proves difficult because both sides start making rash decisions in this “war.”
And while logically, readers know that Magog is wrong (and even that plays interestingly into the story), you can’t say the old school heroes are completely “right” either. Some of them, such as Wonder Woman, have their own reasons behind that fight as well, causing them to be as brutal and decisive as the new heroes. And you can even somewhat see the new heroes reasoning for their actions.
Superman is presented very human here, making it hard for me to hold a grudge against him. He’s a man who has lost a lot, and even though he won’t admit it, he’s living in some kind of bubble that filters out the rest of the world. He reluctantly comes out of retirement and makes tough decisions, while questioning if this is really what it’s come to.
And the ending, wow. I actually got a little misty-eyed there, and I’m not even that familiar with Shazam or his exploits. And the art really was able to pull out a lot of emotion in this story. It was breathtaking, enhancing an already well-written tale. Overall, this was a great read. Definitely goes on my favorites list. (less)
Post-House of M Pietro is depowered, living in a hellhole, thinking about how life used to be for him. His powers defined him in a major way. Pietro p...morePost-House of M Pietro is depowered, living in a hellhole, thinking about how life used to be for him. His powers defined him in a major way. Pietro powers have always allowed him to be cocky, to be better than the humans he sees as inferior. Now, without his powers, he feels less than inferior—even to humans. He doesn’t understand normalcy. He doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be just human.
Life doesn’t seem much worth living to him, and he spends much of his time staggering about in his old costume living out his former life in his head and feeling guilty for being part of something that left so many mutants powerless. During an encounter with Spider-Man, Pietro tries to end his own life. He critically injures himself during his quest, but his estranged wife, Crystal, takes him to Attilan where he’s healed.
In desperation, Pietro appeals to Black Bolt to allow him to use the Terrigen Mists to restore his powers. Black Bolt refuses and with understandable reasons that he tries to explain to Pietro (through Medusa). Pietro uses it anyway, but his powers return in an abnormal way. Despite this, Pietro decides to return to earth with the Terrigen crystals and uses them to restore the powers of other depowered mutants. Do I even need to tell you how badly this goes?
Pietro, Pietro, Pietro. I’m a huge fan of Quicksilver. Say what you will about him, but I love him. He has a myriad of baggage that he’s toting around. He has all these personal issues, many stemming from the need to impress a father who hates him. He can’t do much right even in the best of intentions. Part of the problem seems to be that he just can’t shake hubris even when he’s not in the best of shape, and another part of the problem seems to also come from some need to prove himself due to Magneto’s repeated rejections. (And there’s also this fact that he’s more like Magneto than either man is willing to admit.)
Pietro finds himself in a place where he feels he has nothing left to lose—especially if it means getting his powers back. Damn those who stand in his way. The only person who can really seem to touch his heart is his daughter, Luna, who he hasn’t seen in quite some time, but she brings out a softness in him. You can also see traces of love there for Crystal still, and she’s obviously still holding love for him. But she doesn’t understand his human emotions such as jealousy. And he harbors some resentment against her.
I pitied Pietro because this made him seem like one of those people who can’t cope with a situation and find some peace with it. Instead of seeking to improve his situation, he seeks to regain his “former glory.” Since he can’t find his sister, he’s mostly resigned to think that those glory days will never come back without her... until he reaches Attilan. I shook my head at MANY of Pietro’s actions during and after Attilan because there was just so much obvious room for error there. And the inhumans are so particular about humans and not in a good way, but not a damn was given.
And then, Pietro also angered me. One thing that just really bothered me? Repeatedly exposing Luna to the Terrigen crystals to the point that seemed like a drug addict. Just heartbreaking. He finally realizes his actions are harmful to her and tries to do the right thing by sending her back to her mother, but in this, I realize that he’s continuing the odd family dynamics that his family faces. Aside from being the World’s GREATEST Dad (sarcasm), these are the reasons that I like the Pietro and his family. They’re just so damn complicated.
Things I didn’t like? Spider-Man. I think there were better ways to cause Pietro to take that jump rather than having Spider-Man all tangled up in the scene. It just seemed like a waste of panels for a story that could’ve used more panels to tell Pietro’s story. I also didn’t like how restricted this story felt. It was a good story, but it wasn’t a story that could be held by such small constraints. Towards the ends, things started feeling a little rushed like they suddenly realized, “Oh, hell, guys... we’re running out of space!” They lost a little focus and steam, in my opinion. Everything started happening too fast.
I still think that X-Factor probably does his character the most justice, but I did like how this seemed to really try to show Pietro at his worse, that it tried to show readers what desperate men when do when they feel backed into a corner.(less)
Recommended this series because I recently read Eat the Dead, which is printed by Virgin Comics, as well. Siddharth Kortian wrote and illustrated that...moreRecommended this series because I recently read Eat the Dead, which is printed by Virgin Comics, as well. Siddharth Kortian wrote and illustrated that book, and his named was attached to this project, too. However, he was only the illustrator here. The story was written by Mike Carey.
Alien refugees are in hiding on Earth. But they have no memory of their former lives or the powers they possess. Now, they’re being hunted and killed. Tamree is the only person from their home who remembers everything, and she has been tasked with keeping the others (called Sleepers) safe. Realizing that she’s not going to be able to save the Sleepers alone, she begins waking them and restoring their memories.
This was a Virgin/SyFy collaboration. If Heroes and X-Men had a baby, this would probably be the result. I’d read that it was supposed to have been made into a television series, and honestly, it’s the perfect story for that format. This television show based on this hasn’t happened yet (as far as I can tell), and this book ends on a cliffhanger, of course. However, I haven’t been able to find a continuation to this, so I’m assuming one wasn’t written which is a shame.
The story moved fast, but was still able to give a glimpse of the characters’ personalities before they became Sleepers. It was a typical sci-fi story. It was a solid story that laid the ground for this series. And I have to applaud them for leaving some things to the imagination (like wondering what Dzin really looked like after she mentioned that it’d turn Tamree’s stomach if she revealed her true form).
While I thought the story was usual of the genre, I liked how they played around with familiar powers giving them something a little different, like having Drum being able to break his shields into shards that can slice and having Cullen’s ability to absorb the powers and feelings of other help to mask him from Janus and Dzin because they’re unable to “read” him.
There were parts of the story that were a little unclear to me and seemed to go against everything that was happening in the book. And the ending wasn’t quite what I expected, but that’s only because it contradicted what happened during most of the story. I could’ve missed something, though. I expected a twist for the ending, but it played out differently than what I’d thought.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, but I’m highly disappointed that there aren’t more comics. I was looking forward to reading more about different Sleepers and their powers. (less)
Out of all 7 books, this was probably my favorite. I'm glad that I saw the movie before reading these because I would've been so disappointed not to s...moreOut of all 7 books, this was probably my favorite. I'm glad that I saw the movie before reading these because I would've been so disappointed not to see this one (and Family Values, which is my 2nd favorite). The story is titled Hell and Back, but its subtitle is "A Love Story." And it is just that.
An artist and former soldier (Wallace) saves a woman (Esther) who's trying to commit suicide only to have her taken away from him in the same night after making a deep connection with her. And he's more than willing to go to hell and back to save her. Unlike so many other characters in this book, Wallace is a genuinely good guy. He sees things in a sense of right and wrong, and yeah, he does a whole lot of wrong to get Esther back, but he doesn't start as a gray character like so many of the other "heroes" in Sin City.
This is the only story that has a REAL hopeful ending, and if the movie had played more on the idea that Sin City did nothing but "spoil" and "kill" the people who live there, this would've been a fitting ending for it because it gives hope for, not just Esther and Wallace, but the other inhabitants who live there as well. They can find something worth living for in the city, and they can escape its clutches.
But I can see why it was omitted from a time saving POV and from a story POV. Wallace's hallucinations alone probably would've taken up the whole budget (and caused a helluva lot of lawsuits with all the recognized property used in his hallucinations from Captain America to Rambo to Hell Boy), and the movie seemed to want to play on that "hopelessness and revenge with very little daylight" theme.
But still... I would've loved to have seen this one on the screen. My heart was dreading the ending because I was sure Esther and Wallace were going to end up like so many other characters in the book and I didn't want them to. Wallace and his endless "ma'ams" and good manners through it all were too cute. Imagine my delight when they turned out fine. It was a good farewell to me. The lovers leaving the city just as the readers do.(less)
Just a collection of "yarn" tales that take place in Sin City.
I see where the "Salesman" came from in the movies. Disappointed he didn't really take c...moreJust a collection of "yarn" tales that take place in Sin City.
I see where the "Salesman" came from in the movies. Disappointed he didn't really take care of Becky like in in the movies, but the opening scene was well played.
Also, funny how they basically made Becky "Blue Eyes." She would've been an interesting character to have in the movie, but I guess there would've been no need for her since (sadly) none of her scenes were in the movie. But I guess they wanted to keep that contrast without adding her into the movie.
I wasn't too crazy about all of these. Mostly just Blue Eyes' stories entertained me. The rest were passable.(less)
**spoiler alert** Things are still spiraling down as Gotham's heroes try to keep things under control in Gotham. With Batman no longer around to scare...more**spoiler alert** Things are still spiraling down as Gotham's heroes try to keep things under control in Gotham. With Batman no longer around to scare the criminals, they've declared themselves the new rulers of the city.
Robin is increasingly pulling himself thin trying to help keep the crime down while telling Dick that Gotham needs a Batman to keep it from destroying itself. Dick resists the idea that they need to take up Batman's cape and cowl to bring Gotham back to some sense of order.
Because of the dire situations they're in, other heroes from different parts of the world come together in Gotham to create the Network. Together they try quell the crime that threatens to eat Gotham whole.
Then, a mysterious, murderous Batman starts a killing spree, taking down Gotham's criminals ruthlessly, breaking "the bat code" of not killing, forcing Tim to make a drastic decision. (And it's no surprise who it turns out to be in my opinion.)
It was nice to see other heroes coming to Gotham's aid, especially Knight and Squire, and you can really just feel Gotham's pain as it continue to sink deeper and deeper. I think Tim's desperation and exasperation of the situation shines through the best, though. You watch him fall deeper and deeper into an angry sadness.
Three people assume the identity of Batman in this book, but only one victor emerges. (less)
"Don't thou be frontin'." Ugh, this was terrible. I'd give it no stars if I could. Marvel and DC seem to be plagued with writers who try t...moreFull review.
"Don't thou be frontin'." Ugh, this was terrible. I'd give it no stars if I could. Marvel and DC seem to be plagued with writers who try too freaking hard to be hip and funny. This was about as funny as listening to someone read a how-to manual on rock pets. This wouldn't have been such a terrible story if all this terrible "humor" wasn't popping up on ever page. And I realize Ryan is geeky and would make stupid jokes that seemed lame, but even that hit an all new low point.