Harley Quinn #4

This series has been less than thrilling. Let’s recap:

#0– was hilarious and stunning. A who’s who of comic book artists paying homage to Harleen Quinzel. It was awesome.

#1– didn’t live up. It was a slow start with inconsistent art. Still, I was hopeful that once Harley got settled into her new Brooklyn home things would ramp up.

#2– Poison Ivy comes to visit in a plot that (inadvertantly- I hope) paints animal/environmental activists as nut bags. With a little Gotham star-power courtesy of Dr. Pam Isley, I liked it… but it didn’t do much in terms of overall plot. 

#3– A lovepotion/date rape drug gets HQ in some trouble with some ex-cons. Nothing happened. And it wasn’t funny enough to make up for it.

But I said I would give this series 5 issues to go somewhere. Because I have faith in Amanda Conner and I want Harley to do well… But I only have so much time and money. And I don’t have it in me to hate read this the way I’ve been hate reading Forever Evil. 

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And #4 made some headway in convincing me to stick around. This issue was funnier, zanier and we made some (slight) headway in finding where all these Hitmen are coming from. Harley puts on her regular people disguise and heads to her therapist job at the nursing home which leads her to taking a patient’s family hostage. She misses a roller derby match which leads her to an impulsive decision to take the other team out of contention. When she makes it back to her office she meets up with Sy Borgman, formerly Syborg, a retired supe who recruits her to finish a job that he started in the sixties against Russian Mafia. 

Now that sounds promising!

The art: Stephane Roux kills it in this issue. Hey Paul Mounts does colors! While not as bright and Shiny as the back pages of the X-Men, our colorful Harley Quinn stands out against dingy urban backgrounds and her sparse office. 

Dammit. I’m going to keep having to buy this, aren’t I? Check out the variant cover: Awesome.

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Forever Evil #6

If you’ve been reading my reviews here, you know that I have not quite been enjoying this series. And that I think Geoff Johns is a racist/sexist ass. issue 6 has my man Nightwing on the cover and maybe we’ll get to the point for some of this instead of in-fighting between egotistical villains and inexplicably helpless females.

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I love Nightwing.

Luthor and Batman both argue and bond over their paranoia against the justice league as they infiltrate their fortress. catwoman’s wishy washy behvior prompts Batman to ask whose side she’s really on. Once inside, Batman, catwoman and Luthor stumble on nightwing who has been held in “the Murder Machine” a cell designed to hold Doomsday it’s a bomb with impenetrable walls. Meanwhile, Sinestro, Manta, Black Adam and Captain Cold throwdown against the Justice League’s evil alteregos. Highlights here are Owlman’s waivering allegiance and Black Adam’s mumbling through his broken jaw. 

Epically, the bomb only disarms if nightwing’s heart stops. He dies or they all die. we all know that Batman can’t make that call so Lex Luthor takes matters into his own hands… specifically, he Grayson’s airways into his hands after disarming Batman with his lasers and Bizzaro grabs Catwoman’s whip and apparently that’s as hard as she was willing to fight (FUCK YOU).

Nightwing’s heart stops, Batman beats the crap out of Luthor because apparently no one remembers what CPR is. That was really predictable. So stupid. 

Geoff Johns is such an asshole. everyone here is white as rice (except the aliens -doesn’t count!) and the women are dingbats. Since when is Catwoman not decisive? Superwoman didn’t even talk, sadly that might be for the best. Atomica is usually pretty wicked, but this time she was useless and helplessly watched as Johnny Quick got maimed. Captain Cold was the biggest badass. I’ll give them that though, that part was good. It was also, like, A page. 

Mazahs is now escaped. That’s alternate Shazam, it’s also Shazam spelled backwards, I’m also rubbing my head wondering how I started reading this. So the “good” and “not as evil” guys are in for more trouble.

Also, I knew Nightwing wasn’t going to die. 

Harley Quinn #3

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Conner killed this cover. Or should I say nailed, murdered and shish-kabobbed it? Harleen Quinzel floats above, doe eyed and content (cute slippers, too) above corpses that have been hacked up with saws, hatchets, wrenches, scissors, rakes an sporks. Heart Grenade graffiti papers the background. 

Inside; a checkerboard format has Harley going through a haunted house ride. It’s Valentine’s Day there on planet Harley and a creepy surgeon reminds her of her bad boyfriend, Mr. J. Suddenly, she’s ambushed by a hit man dressed as a Nosferatu. She disarms him, shoot’s him and leaves him for the underemployed nerd to clean up.

She walks by happy couples with a rain cloud overhead and then sees Big Tony sitting on her steps with a bouquet. They weren’t originally for her, they were for Queenie, but she takes them anyway. But it’s not what she wants. HQ wants unconditional love, someone committed (pun or not?). While she sets her flowers by the window, she sees that her recent house guest, Poison Ivy has left her some goodies. One of the potted plants has a not that says “For finding LOVE” she eats a couple of the berries…

Then she gets a call: she got the therapist job at the nursing home. She feels the need to celebrate and gets decked out in leather leggings and a strapless dress. Harley hits the street, heading to a singles bar. 5 minutes later she crosses in front of a prisoner transport bus. The driver falls immediately for Harley, he loses concentration and crashes. 8 murderers, 2 serial killers, 2 mass murderers, and arsonist and a pervert escape …and they all catch Harley’s scent. 

They start this creepy “yum. yum.” “mine” thing at her and she says, “I ain’t none of yours.” They chase her up the road where she finds WE B TOOLS and goes on the search for her weapon of choice.

She makes her stand with weed whackers, a proband tank, axe, wrench, nail gun… She take particular vengeance with the pervert… a female police officer shows up to investigate and she falls for Harley, too. Our girl runs for home and slingshots Poison Ivy’s love plant out the window. Big Tony comes in, asks for the flowers back, he’s gonna go after Queenie and fight for her. HQ gives him a freaky berry to give him the edge (well, that’s rapey). 

Harley goes to play with her dogs and goes on an anti-Valentine’s Day rant.

I still don’t know what to make of this series. It’s zany. I like Harley. But there’s not enough happening yet. I wanna know who put the hit on HQ, issue 3 seemed a little early for a Holiday Themed side track. 

Also, Harley giving Tony the berry after she got harassed, assaulted and nearly chopped up for dinner. She gave him less, so that wouldn’t happen to him, but it would still trick Queenie into falling for Tony. Queenie who’s on a date with someone and doesn’t like Big T. Consent is absent there. That’s not romantic, it’s gross. In the final panel we also see that Queenie’s date has fallen for Tony. Love potions are equivalent to date rape drugs, consciousnesses are altered in order to achieve a certain result. It’s not hilarious it’s a fucking crime. 

The Movement #9

Gail Simone does doubles down on the awesomeness as Batgirl infiltrates Coral City. Ms. Gordon is trying to track down a superpowered young man to turn over to the PD, but in the tweens; they don’t just hand over citizens to corrupt cops. Batgirl gets held back by Channel M kids and their “I see you” catchphrase.

Meanwhile, Virtue and Katharsis are reading Mouse for his “date” with Tremor. She’s still not buying it. Partially because of the rat in her heart shaped candy box. Vengeance Moth enters and tells the team that they’ve got their first real super in Coral City.

But Batgirl has done her homework and knows just wear to go to get the Movement’s attention. She quickly does, but instead of teaming up vigilate to vigilante, Batgirl threatens them. Says she could find some reason that The Movement should be incarcerated. Even to other vigilantes The Movement is too fringe, too anarchist! Katharsis busts in with a personal grudge, seems Babs took her down when she was working for Knightfall in Gotham as one of The Disgraced (funfact: Kulap Vilaysack AKA Katharsis is Gail Simone’s creation, she first appeared in Batgirl #10) They tire each other out some, and Batgirl proves to be the superior fighter… Then Virtue invites Barbara to partake in her fave problem solving technique, Milk Shakes and Donuts.

Elsewhere, Captain Meers and Yee -still banged up from his tussle with Whitt- are getting closer to discovering Virtue’s identity. Her current alias is Holly Rae Hunter, but in her past life she has seizures, she was “presumed dead” and her father was so depressed that he robbed a bank in a suicide by cop. Meers shot him.

So there they are in the diner with their capes and cowls, trying to get facts straight. Batgirl keeps staring at disabled supe Vengeance Moth who calls her out, “You keep staring at me. It’s okay, wheelchairs freak some people out, I guess.” Might I add- I totally loved this exchange, Batgirl was paralyzed by the Joker and became Oracle:

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Joined Birds of Prey, worked for the US government, helped the JLA and went toe-to-toe with able- and hyperable-bodied villains. She had been in a wheelchair since 1988’s the Killing Joke. When the New 52 but Babs back in her cape and cowl disability advocates went fucking nuts. And for good reason. Simone, for her part, said that she didn’t agree with disabling Batgirl to begin with- she was paralyzed by the Joker to advance the plot for the male heroes, and she feels that it wasn’t fair to keep her in a wheelchair while all these other characters were being regenerated and resurrected. So now Babs has a chip in her spine and did some serious rehab, which got her back to the vigilante lifestyle (Batman got his spine broke in the third Dark Knight film, he just got his suit upgraded, why should another member of the Batfamily have to deal with real world repercussions?). But I felt like Simone was calling herself out via her new -albeit minor- disabled superhero. 

They tell Batgirl she’s not going after her perp, Horizon. They’ll handle it. Batgirl protests and Katharsis KO’s her. They decide to take her back to the sweatshop and unmask her.

Which of course happened in Forever Evil with Nightwing.

Are The Movement setting themselves up to look like bad guys? What kind of heat is this going to bring?

In the final pages we see Horizon going too far.

What did you think of this issue? I really dug the cross over. And no matter where you side on the Oracle/Batgirl debate:

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The Movement #5

After panicking and flailing my arms because I could decide what to read first:

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I settled on the Movement #5-

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Channel M/the Movement still has officers Pena and Whitt hostage. They have Katharsis back and they are planning a trial for the two cops.

Captain Meers meets up with Virtue to make a deal. (That cops can patrol the ‘tweens but can be monitored by the Movement. A civilian board of claims for complaints against police. He needs the cops back. He warns her that professional hitmen are coming to stop the Movement.

They meet at a diner called Calvins and dunk donuts in their milkshakes. Virtue doesn’t wear her mask. “Oh no, you might see the skin around my eyes!” (I know, right?)

At the trial in the abandoned warehouse: The officers are being charged with sexual harassment of a minor. Speaking for the defense is Tremor, who we just found out had been the mole in the last issue. Her conscience got the better of her and she truly aligned herself with the Movement. Or that was the idea, anyway.

Whitt refuses to participate. Pena pleads guilty. (Whitt’s still missing a ton of teeth, BTW).

Captain Meers is trying to track down Virtue, guessing at clues about where she might work.

Tremor, defending the officers brings up how Whitt saved an infant from a fire, risking his life. Katharsis angrily points out that it’s no excuse for scaring 16 year olds and attempting to assault them (true again. When charges of rape/abuse/harassment come out- especially when perpetrators are men in authority leads back to “but he’s such a nice guy” “oh I can’t believe he’d do that” Well, he did. and if you do that, you are a bad person. It’s nice to think it’s only evil men…). The victim herself steps up to say how scared and threatened she was and that Pena’s apology means nothing. (And frankly, it doesn’t. they both abused their authority). Whitt says that they don’t know what it’s like for cops, to be in the line of fire, to be helping people but to be disrespected and called “pigs.” (Oh, boo hoo). The officers try to bust out as the Cornea Killer shows up to claim another victim nearby.

Tremor quits?! & Mouse attacks the Cornea Killer until the stalker is backed up by the THE GRAVEYARD FACTION.

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(possibly) Unintentional unanswered question:

Our girl Vengeance Moth was about to get her violence on. Katharsis, who can’t resist a fight… or knocking more teeth out of Whitt’s head… jumps in. Tremor sets of a quake. Katharsis (touching the ground) was hurt and Tremor orders the men out. But Ven was in the air… sooo… why did she let them go?

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The last pages are Calendarman underground reporting for Channel 52, and of course: the big story is Superwoman unmasking Nightwing as Richard Grayson! LOOK YOU CAN SEE THE SKIN AROUND HIS EYES! OMG haha, love it.

This series continues to be great. The Movement is fighting against society’s everyday evils and a very weird killer and now they’re about to face some Super Villains on top of in-fighting as each member tries to figure out what justice really means to them. 

Poison Ivy #1 + Ventrioquist #1 (FULL LENGTH BONUS RANT INCLUDED)

Before I get to the reviews. Let me just say, I was incredibly excited for these. I even got the collectible lenticular covers, OMG. Way to earn your nerd cookies, EightBit!

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The day before I picked these suckers up I had just reviewed The Movement #4, and I was all “Holy shit, diversity!”

And then Batwoman’s writers, W. Hayden Blackman and JH Williams III, quit over being told that they could not pursue long standing storylines in the way that they wanted. They felt as if it compromised their work, the story and the character. Among the scrapped story lines was Kate and Maggie’s marriage.

Now, how much this had directly to do with DC refusing to allow Batwoman to get married, and why: is DC opposed to the institute of privileging marriage (I wrote my thesis on that, BTW), or are they anti-gay? It’s easier to latch on to the more inflammatory option. However, not allowing the creative team to… well, create in a way that made Kate Kane a well rounded character is clearly a mistake. DC was willing to Let Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy flirt and have innuendo as a “joke” appealing to straight male fantasy… oooh sexy bad girls are they or aren’t they.  (More on Harley Quinn later.) DC, lesbians are not a joke for straight men to get hot and bothered to. Get your perverted shit together.

And then I was all, “oooh shiny!”

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Review time, comic book fans!

Poison Ivy #1/Batman Detective Comics #23.1

Gotham City is tearing itself apart. A city revealing it’s true nature. It’s return to nature.

There’s no Batman. The Justice League is dead, the Crime Syndicate has taken over.

Amid the chaos and anarchy, Pamela sees a man and woman fighting while their daughter hides. She flashes back to her similar childhood. Her mom used to hide out in the garden with Pam, her dad bought her mom flowers to apologize for beating up on her, thus she learned that flowers could manipulate people.. (this was not previously part of her origin, and frankly I am not a fan). In the middle of these flashbacks, including finding her mother buried in the garden at the hands of her father she finds the Gotham Botanical Gardens being burned down. You know it will end poorly for these suckers.

The story flashes back to her college years, where she seduced the dean. Her First kill, her father. And then her internship at Wayne industries where she seduce’s Bruce Wayne with her pheromone pills.

She pitches the idea of her plant based pills that trigger specially designed behavioral responses which can specifically target the needs of clients. Bruce Wayne fires her. He fires her and keeps the rights to her research so she can never pursue other firms.

It was during the struggle with the guards to get her hard work that she was doused in her formula. (I like this portion of the origin story better than her being dosed by a professor as an experiment).

During all of this, Poison Ivy is walking around followed by awe inspiring plant monsters, and she calls to the plants to take over the concrete. The issue ends with Commissioner Gordon confronting Ivy on the roof of Wayne Enterprises, he points a gun at he and she dives into the jungle she’s created, vowing that her green kingdom will flourish.

Good read, I don’t think that sad sack part with her family was necessary. Academia can drive you crazy enough. The art is great. Poison Ivy was always my favorite. It’s so true, the earth doesn’t need people, the plants will always grow, the earth will reclaim itself.

Ventriloquist #1/Batman the Dark Knight #23.1

Ventriloquist nails traumatic childhood with neglected twin Shauna. Living in her twin brother’s shadow drives her eight shades of crazy. Her brother was a child star while she was bullied and called “Shabby Shauna.” Sudden emergency of telekinetic powers mixed with angst and gallons of jealousy and Shauna throws her bully into the road and gets revenge on her brother, Ferdie. Then she meets a party clown with a ventriloquist dummy. She names him after her “poor dear, homely dead brother” and sets out to find her place in show biz.

With the lights out in Gotham she lights up a theater, entices an audience and starts a show that will stop their hearts. The Crime Alley Cretins try to take over the theater… yeah, it gets ugly. Shauna and Freddie wreak some serious havoc while cracking some sick jokes.

This storyline promises a continue in the pages of BatGirl!

Man what a creepfest.

A day later, of course, the internet exploded as an article called “Want to be a Dc Artist? Just draw Harley Quinn naked committing suicide.” Made the rounds. Let me be clear. I know Harley Quinn isn’t supposed to make good decisions or be a role model… but why does this mean she has to be hyper-sexualized and defeated? and not even cleverly so at that.

Look, DC here’s the deal: comic books are good. Everyone wants them. And we all want to feel represented. We know, we know, your core audience is straight white men who don’t know how to talk to girls… broaden your horizons. If you don’t allow your characters to have innovative storylines you can’t blame it on the audience.

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The Poison Ivy book would have been clever without killing off her mom (I know, her abusive dad taught her that flowers could manipulate people, it was her thesis! No. Still no).

Ventriloquist was dark creepy and was an interesting social commentary on the pressure society puts on girls to be beautiful. Not my favorite villain by any means, but a great story.

The Movement #4

Yeahhh, all caught up now (almost just in time for Ventriloquist!). And with #DiversityInSFF trending all over the twitter this is a great book to review today! 

When we left the Channel M gang, Katharsis had declared that she was a cop (leaving readers to suspect that she had been the rat… errr.. spy) was taken to the station and beaten bloody. Virtue had shown up to demand Katharsis’s release from Captain Meers. 

This book gives the back story and provides insight to the motivations of some of the Movements key players. 

We have Mouse, who was born to a wealthy family but because of circumstances beyond his control, (you know, being a pied piper for rats) he began living on the streets.

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And Katharsis, an immigrant from Thailand who moved to the US as a child. She became a cop… it’s true! but.. she quit after she discovered that the justice system could be bought and sold. 

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Tremor… is the spy. It’s very sad. She’s trying to atone for her past. She got her family run out of India (showing off her super powers… don’t judge, you wouldn’t be able to resist).

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Burden is Amish, raised in horse and buggy country by deeply religious people who convinced him he is possessed. 

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In the end, they find Katharsis, Tremor decides to align herself with Virtue and the others… for real this time. And everyone tries to get the hell out of there before the choppers come in. 

There’s lotsa skull breaking and badassery on the way to the sub-basement to rescue Katharsis.

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That’s Captain Meers and Agent Yee

This is calm, cool and organized Virtue

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(well, actually, I think that’s some fan art. But it’s damn cool.)

I’m looking forward to seeing how Vengeance Moth got her name

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Look at all these people. They look different, are from different backgrounds, have different values, abilities, cultures, families, religions, ethnicities, races, sexualities. And people claim they can’t write characters this diverse “because it feels forced” let me tell you, this does NOT feel forced. It feels like the population of an actual city, reminiscent of stories people might tell you if you bother to talk to anyone outside of your quiet boring-ass neighborhood. 

Honestly. Pay attention to your surroundings. Talk to people… better yet LISTEN.

I can tell Gail Simone does.

#ThisIsHowYouWriteGood

PS- I said something similar about Dicey Grenor and her awesome and profoundly diverse characters after I read Zeek’s Loving Thorn. (I’m impatiently waiting for her next one.)

PS2- This is a really kick ass interview where Freddie Williams talks about the art/costume design in this book and how they were careful not to hamfist “look Rainmaker is Native American” and actually be subtle and use realistic things that people might actually have if they’re living in an abandoned sweatshop starting a hacktivism movement.

The Movement #1

I picked the first 2 issues of The Movement up last week along with Red Sonja in some sort of Gail Simone extravaganza. I hadn’t heard much about The Movement, and what I’d heard wasn’t great. However, by the first page, I’d decided that I loved it. 

The scene: Coral City.

#1 opens with officers Pena and Whitt hassling some kids, a teenage boy and girl and searching them for drugs. They “find some” on one and offer to let them go, IF the girl gives them a “little peek.” 

However, masked hacktivists record the incident and confront the officers sending them out.

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The group, Channel M/the Movement, spreads the footage themselves and to the media. Police chief orders the officers out but bureaucracy has other plans (a scenario that reeks of Gotham City). Then they get a call about another victim of a serial killer they’ve been after that leads them to a church in “the ‘tweens”: the area between 10th and 20th street that the Movement, and vigilantes with interesting superpowers, have taken over. 

A guy who can control rats, a girl who can ride emotions, a girl who can cause earthquakes, a girl with metal wings.

Inside the church a homeless boy is looking demonic, spouting warnings from hell and levitating. The cops have decided he is the serial killer (with no investigation, on the hunch that he’s crazy and in the general area). A masked vigilante sets him straight.

Captain: “There’s a killer in there.”

Virtue: “no, there isn’t. There’s a poor tortured kid with a mental illness who’s been told his whole life he’s possessed. And sadly, he had the superhuman powers to make it happen. We’ll look after them.”

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OMG the social commentary: the disenfranchised fighting back, the stigma of mental illness, the corruption of those in perceived power, communities taking care of themselves and their own, creating your own news. I think I’m in love.

Where as some of the set up is very Gotham, the main characters only have themselves and their community for resources, no money, no infrastructure, no more gadgets than your average underemployed twentysomething. They have superpowers, of course, although some are more useful than others, after all, you can’t make earthquakes just anywhere and riding a wave of rats is pretty weird and gross.

I recommend it. It’s not traditional superhero fare by any means, take that however you like. And I like the whole “I see you…” gimmick. The group’s go-to isn’t violence. What they are out for isn’t about power or revenge, it’s truth, it’s transparency.