Pull List, Redux
|September 25, 2012||Posted by Jess under Comics, Ladytexts|
Back in February, I talked about the state of my pull list six months after the reboot. Now that we’re a year into the DCnU, I thought I’d check in again. So! Here’s what I’m reading and how I’m liking it:
Batwoman: Batwoman’s an interesting comic for me, because…well, I like cheerful comics with straightforward, tightly-structured plots, plucky young heroes, art that leans towards the cartoony end of the spectrum, and lots of jokes. Batwoman is a dark, often gory comic with a tangled nest of a plot, gorgeous spreads of dreamy illustrations, a seriously fucked-up cast, and no jokes to speak of. It’s also beautiful, and a refreshing change from DC’s Xtreme 90s Redux line (now with more graphic violence and fewer minorities!), and I want to support it because it’s a book starring a lesbian with a largely female supporting cast. I read it more because I support what it’s doing than because it’s a book that calls to me. But it’s a very beautiful book.
(My one complaint: I fell in love with Bette Kane a few years back because she was basically a female Booster Gold – cocky and unabashedly fame-seeking despite the superhero community’s disdain. I’m not really enjoying this turn towards the twisted for her. Bette Kane should be fun, dammit!)
Phantom Lady and Doll Man: Nnnnnn. I’m basically completely unfamiliar with these characters, so I don’t know how true the reboot is to their origins, but…well. Gray and Palmiotti are often hit-or-miss for me, and here it’s just not working. The storytelling via Cat Staggs’ art isn’t great – the facial expressions don’t match the dialogue and the pacing is weird. And Doll Man is basically a giant creep, with his passive aggressive declarations of love and trying to run her life behind her back. I basically want him to fall off a cliff, which is probably not optimal. Still, it’s only the first issue, so I’ll give the second one a shot.
Supergirl: This book makes me so happy. Kara is my very favorite character, and she’s had her share of bad writing, especially when she gets rebooted, but her New 52 book is a delight to me every month. Kara is genuinely heroic, selfless and clever, and she’s allowed to win on a regular basis, which seems to be a rarity for New 52 books. She’s an adorably awkward turtle around people her age, which I love, and doesn’t take any guff from Clark, which I love even more. The glimpses we get of Krypton and her parents go a long way towards developing her character and theirs, rather than just serving to remind us that, oh yeah, she’s from Krypton – and simultaneously build up enough mystery around the circumstances of Krypton’s destruction that, like, I actually kind of wanted to read Superboy at one point? Which is crazy talk. And there are actual jokes, and daylight, and primary colors! Female friendship! Kara slaying a dragon while wearing space-armor! And Mahmud Asrar’s art is stunning. Just. Sheer joy, you guys.
Superman Family Adventures: More joy! If there’s two things I firmly believe about Superman, it’s that there should always be a kid-friendly Superman comic out there, and that the Superfamily should interact more.1 This kills two birds with one stone! The comics have the familiar charm of Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans, but a little more coherent, and there are so many little details that I love: Jimmy’s crush on Kara, Lois’s disdain for Clark, Clark’s apparent decision to cover his secret identity by never making any sense whatsoever, Kara and Kon’s interactions with “Uncle Jor-El”… It’s just precious all around.
Sword of Sorcery Featuring: Amethyst: This one’s only an issue in, but I plan on reading it for the foreseeable future. I’ve never read any Amethyst comics before (and I’m just a skootch too young to have grown up on Jem, though I’m still delighted by the fact that they hired the show’s creator Christy Marx to write this equal eighties-tastic character for girls), but I am in favor of comics about girls, especially ones that are so clearly intended for a female audience2, and the idea of a moody loner who discovers she is secretly a magic, purple-wearing princess speaks to the 12-year-old I was like nobody’s business. Plus, I’m a big fan of Aaron Lopresti’s art. He’s in fine form here, and the comic is 90% great, so I don’t regret my decision to buy it at all.
But. But. Did we actually need the attempted gang rape of a 16-year-old in a comic about a SPARKLY PURPLE PRINCESS? This book is and SHOULD BE the comic book equivalent of a Barbie Dream House. Did Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld really need to be dark? Did it?
And hey, while we’re talking about troubling and inappropriate messages, I have no idea if this is true to the original comic or not, but there’s something disturbingly Aryan Nation about a family whose blond hair gives them the divine right to rule. Don’t do that, DC.
Again. Ninety percent great. But ohhhhh, that 10% is really foul.
Wonder Woman: Like Batwoman, I’m reading this one more out of appreciation for the book’s quality than because it’s the kind of book I usually like. It’s a bit too dark and gory for my tastes (and as with Superman, I feel there should always be a Wonder Woman book that little girls can buy). I’m also not a huge fan of this interpretation of the Greek gods, though Cliff Chiang’s designs are striking – hell, his art in general is worth the price of admission. And I’m not at all happy with the changes to Diana’s origin and the portrayal of the Amazons as sailor-slaughtering bad guys. But the story is compelling, and, you know, it’s Wonder Woman. Hopefully we’ll get some good old-fashioned superheroics once this Zola arc is over.
World’s Finest: Sigh. I want this to be better. I like Power Girl and Huntress a lot (though I wish that having Helena Wayne around hadn’t “necessitated” the death of Helena Bertinelli, but the DCnU never keeps multiple female characters when one or none will do) and Kevin Maguire is one of my favorite artists, but it’s just kind of lacking. Every issue so far has been exactly the same, and Levitz’s scripting always kind of feels like 1/3 of the words are missing – like somehow we’re getting the abridged version. Also, though I have a tremendous amount of respect for George Perez’s work, I don’t think the large panels and gradient coloring of modern comics suit his pencils. And neither Perez nor Maguire seems to be capable of drawing a short haircut on a woman. (God, can you imagine if Amanda Conner was drawing this, though? Be still my heart!) Still, it’s a World’s Finest title starring ladies and their beautiful, eyebrow-raisingly-suggestive friendship, so I will suffer mediocrity for that.
Captain Marvel: Gadzooks! It’s a non-DC comic! How can this be? Well, because I think Kelly Sue DeConnick is really cool and because, as you might have guessed from the rest of this pull list, I am willing to give pretty much any comic book starring a female character a shot as long as it’s not written by Judd Winick and/or doesn’t give me an Oracle-related rage blackout.3 And I really like it! Despite my general lack of Marvel knowledge – I’ve literally never read anything with Carol Danvers before this – it’s not hard to follow, and I am delighted by the mostly-female supporting cast and stubborn, prickly Carol. My one issue is the art – Dexter Soy’s art is lovely, but the script is funny, and I wish the art reflected that. It’s Serious Business Art all the time. Still, that’s a small complaint, and it makes me super happy that Marvel seems really committed to making this book a success. Yay Captain Marvel!4
Finally, a one-shot:
National Comics: Looker: I picked this up despite my concerns about the cheesecakey cover, because I’m really rather fond of Looker, terrible outfit and all, and again, ladycomic. And for the first few pages I regretted it, because there are a loooooot of gendered slurs and body policing being thrown around at the outset of this issue, and the colorist has rendered some amazingly plasticine cleavage on poor Emily. But then the issue went on to show a smart, competent, super badass Emily who decides to take on the role of mentor and protector to other young women, and that made me really happy. It’s a total revamp5 of the character, but I’m fine with that – “ex-model whose career was ruined by being turned into a vampire fights monsters” is a much easier and more coherent sell than “plain girl is turned into beautiful superhero by a weird underground cult, then turns plain again, then beautiful again, then becomes a vampire for no reason.” Plus, it means this outfit never happened. Well done, National Comics!
Next time on Pull List Theater, I’ll talk digital – I’m buying all of the Ame-Comi Girls minis, so I’ll take a look at those once I actually, you know, read them. And stay tuned for a post on how I “dropped” Justice League International but continued to purchase and read it because I am a Booster Gold-loving glutton for punishment and a total hypocrite. It’ll be fun!
- If there’s three, it’s LITTLE RED SHORTS FOREVER. ↩
- Not that DC is marketing it to women or anything, because why would they want women to know about this comic they would probably want to spend money on? Don’t be ridiculous. But despite the lack of outreach to a female audience, Amethyst as a character/concept could not be more clearly aimed at ladies if it was subtitled “A LADY COMIC FOR LADIES” and sold in the tampon aisle. And I mean that in the most delighted, enthusiastic way possible. COMICS FOR GIRLS YAY! ↩
- Superman Family Adventures is clearly a comic starring Supergirl and Lois Lane with occasional cameos from Clark and Kon and Jimmy, duh. ↩
- Even if I’m cranky because of Billy Batson’s subsequent name change. ↩
- Get it? ↩