Short & Sweet: Wolf Spider Bikini Bingo

Batwoman #28 banner.

Wolves, spiders, wolf-spiders, and more! This week we review Batwoman, Red Sonja, Adventure Time, Loki: Ragnarok and Roll and SPOOKS.

Batwoman #28, Jeremy Haun. DC Comics Feb 2014.Batwoman #28
Marc Andreyko, Jeremy Haun
DC Comics

WARNING: If you have any fear of spiders, the cover of Batwoman #28, drawn by the very talented Trevor McCarthy, is straight up nightmare fuel. Wow, the wolf-spider that Batwoman is battling on the cover is just horrific and beautiful, in a horrifically beautiful kind of way.

Each issue of Batwoman is making me more of a believer of Marc Andreyko. While I find his work on The Illegitimates to be a bit predictable, I am so into this opening arc of his. The story of Kate and Maggie making accommodations to support each other’s lives is absolutely terrific. I think it’ll be interesting to see what kind of adjustments Kate is willing to make in order to care for Jamie, Maggie’s daughter from a previous marriage, and what toll that will take on her Batwoman crusade.

I’m just going to say it. I’m not even ashamed. I think Jeremy Haun draws Kate Kane better than anyone else has in this series. The way he draws her in her civilian identity is quite believable. I like her style. And it’s not just Kate. Bette, who is recovering from the injuries she sustained fighting the Wolf Spider in last issue, looks great despite being laid up enough to be out of service for five weeks. I could still take or leave his costumed art, though. The look is good but he chooses some interesting fighting poses/angles. There’s a panel where her face is tilted forward so her mask looks like it has a beak. But the majority of the story takes place sans mask so it doesn’t distract too much from everything that does work in this comic.

For once, I feel like a story can go on forever and not get bored. I like that we’re getting a really good look into the civilian side of the heroics. I can’t say enough how important I think characterization is and you don’t really know a character if you’re only shown one facet of their life. Kate Kane is as important as Batwoman is and Batwoman #28 was a great example of how to blend both sides in such a way that it’s still exciting for people who need the action but mundane enough that the hero feels like a human being.

— Kristi McDowell

Red Sonja #7, Walter Geovani. Dynamite, Feb 2014.Red Sonja #7
Gail Simone, Walter Geovani

I’m so glad I got the Amy Reeder variant cover for Red Sonja #7. Mostly because I can’t get enough of Amy Reeder’s art, but I’m pretty sure no one draws Red Sonja’s leaping sword and cleaver attack like Amy Reeder does.

I like the tone of Red Sonja. One of the things I’ve always loved about Gail Simone’s stories is how well she gets into the characters’ heads as she tells their stories. Sonja doesn’t just go on a mission. She thinks about all the good food and, if she’s lucky, exciting beds she’s going to encounter when she’s finished her mission. All of that really helps to solidify her as a character, not just some bikini-armor-clad warrior trope.

This was a particularly good issue for characterization. Sonja has been sent by a dying king to gather the necessary personnel for the biggest funeral he can make. First on his list is a gourmet chef who is currently in the employ (and by employ, obviously I mean a slave) of bog people who also happen to be cannibal gourmands. Fortunately, Gribaldi the Chef and Sonja the Red see to it that the bog people come to a fitting end and the warrior woman completes the first part of her mission. She doesn’t learn how to appreciate well-prepared food and she doesn’t get lucky (that we see; maybe she hooks up with Gribaldi between issues) but, stone-tongued or not, she’s a lady who gets things done.

I don’t think I need to go on and on about how wonderful Walter Geovani is. Everytime I turn the page, I am just astonished by how well he blends the fierceness and beauty of Red Sonja. I definitely enjoy Reeder’s interpretation of the character on the cover but as far as I can tell, there’s no one who can draw Sonja murdering a dude with a skewered rabbit like Geovani can.

— Kristi McDowell

thumbs.phpSPOOKS volume 1: The Fall of Babylon
Dorison, Nury & Rossi

You like Westerns? You like spies? You like the inescapable tragedy of good-team characters having a very bad dad? Hows about Satanism? Cults for the rich and misguided? Teens escaping into drugs, women (okay, one woman) getting an education in the late nineteenth century, or heist-like team dynamics? Well lookeehere, have I got the comic for you. Painted in beautiful orange-to-blue watercolours over pencils so competent you’d swear they could get up and dance a jig.

On your desert graaaaave.

SPOOKS (Specialists in the Odd and the Occult) volume one follows the reformation of an old gang and introduces new members; shady 1895 eccentrics who know all about magic, symbols on corpses that appear and vanish, and high-society cults–plus espionage, sniping, luck, and politics. They’re back together at the behest of the just-fired Top Man in American Intelligence, Richard Clayton, who’s sure of two things: that there’s terrorism for him to combat, and that this campaign is a matter for those who will not scoff away the occult. The western-style “gang o’ old lads” narrative jostles nicely with the family drama; newest prospective member Kathryn Lennox comes from a family rich with money, privilege, history, connections, and bad decisions. Her father’s in deep, her brother’s sinking fast, her mother won’t make a judgement call. What’s a girl to do?

Take her psychiatric training, her strong nerve and all of her familial responsibility, to join the boys’ club.

— Claire Napier

url-2Adventure Time #25
Ryan North, Dustin Nguyen, Jess Fink, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Shelli Paroline & Brandon Lamb

Adventure Time #25 is the most ambitious issue yet, a standalone story spanning millions of years and illustrated by no less than six artists. “Carl the Gem: A Love Story” begins in the distant past, when a pair of meteorites crash to earth and startle some talking dinosaurs. (Dinosaur comics? What will Ryan North think of next?) The meteorites transform into sentient, magical gemstones, a matched set separated by fate. One gem powers the amulet used by Princess Bubblegum in the season five episode “The Vault,” while the second gem is our narrator Carl, who falls into the possession of Marceline, Finn, and Jake.

As the issue title indicates, this is a love story. It’s also a story about the uniting power of friendship, but luckily never feels like a mawkish inspirational poster. Relationships are hard, as shown in the scenes between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum; people change and go to new places, even when our love for them is constant (“Anyway, if we turn into skeletons at the bottom of some dungeon somewhere, people will still know we’re pals!”). When Finn and Jake arrive, the story becomes a more traditional adventure–ROBOT TREEHOUSE–but it’s no less fun or charming.

The guest artists are well-utilized, as the shifting art styles convey the passage of time and the shifting relationships between characters; Dustin Nguyen and Jess Fink are my personal favorites of the issue. Everything leads up to a final, fantastic splash page that should inspire legions of Adventure Time fanartists and get readers humming along to the theme song. So come on, grab your friend, and grab this comic too.

— Kayleigh Hearn

Loki Ragnarok and Roll, BOOM. Feb, 2014.Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1
Eric Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord

Norse mythology geeks, this is for you! Loki: Ragnarok and Roll is another modern remaking of Asgard, but one that promises to be different (and have a lot more rock ‘n’ roll). Writer Eric Esquivel has already done Thor: The Unkillable Christ and now, in this four issue miniseries, focuses on the less muscular–but nowadays incredibly popular–Loki.

After being declared guilty of a diplomatic mess actually caused by Thor, Loki is exiled to Earth. The penalty, though, ends up being better than Asgard, where The God of Mischief always felt like an outsider. Down here he finds a rock club and sees that, in the middle of all these rockers, he is in fact the one that looks least like an evil norse god.

In this universe, all gods and mythologies exist, and they even go partying together. In a cleverly timed scene, we see a lot of them: egyptian, hindi, greek, catholic, etc. gods and even Giant Spaghetti Monster makes an appearance as “internet god of disbelief”. Esquivel said that this inter-existence of divinities will play a more prominent part in future issues, as Loki’s band hits it big and gets attention from above. This certainly will make fertile ground for a lot of jokes: Ragnarok and Roll is, after all, a humour book.

There are a couple of things I’m looking forward to in the next three issues: first, rocker girls. In this issue, the female crowd in the rock club consisted of only fans and sexy dancers, but I want to see them playing. These things can really kill my mood. If Loki’s band, which will appear in the next issue, has more females than males, I’ll eat my tongue and applaud. And second, I want to see how they’ll deal with Loki’s bisexuality or, in some versions, gender fluidity–or maybe they won’tt deal with it at all. Which would be a waste of great mythology material.

— Carolina Mello

Kristi McDowell

Kristi McDowell

Comics, cats, and (red velvet) cakes enthusiast. What she lacks in social skills she makes up for with pop culture trivia. When she’s not writing her wildly popular blog, Pop Culture Sushi, she’s editing the independent ongoing series Autumn Grey and working on her own mini-series, debuting this fall. She may also, instead, be playing more Fallout 3 than is frankly acceptable. She’s played in a rock band, worked in a comic book shop, and knows enough karate to fight crime – if only she could settle on a theme that goes with pink. No flamingos.That is to say, she has a tenuous grasp of reality and the audacity to think that someone actually cares about what she has to say.