DC comics


Collects issues 1-18 of the digital comics.

Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Bilquis Evely, Mirka Andolfo, Ming Doyle, Sandy Jarrell, M. L. Sanapo, Marc Deering

This is an alternate history story where the world is still embroiled in WW II. Many men are off in the war and so women have taken up their roles. The majority of heroes (and villains) in this story are women, reimagined into 1940.

Gotham is defended from muggers by Batwoman who is billionaire Kate Kane who lives with her lover detective Maggie Sawyer. Then commander Amanda Waller recruits her for the war effort. The Batwoman goes undercover in Berlin.

Meanwhile, near Greek coast Steve Trevor is fighting Nazi warplanes. He sees a group of women attacking all planes and his fighter goes down. The Amazons take him prisoner but their Princess Diana is interested in the news Steve brings from the outside world: of a great war where millions of people are being killed. The Amazons aren’t interested in the war and indeed their queen is going to execute Steve. But Diana together with her friend Princess Meru from Atlantis free Steve. They want to help fight the Nazis.

In Russia, Kara Starikov and Kortni Duginovna are part of the Russian female elite pilots, the Night Witches. However, on their first mission, Kara’s plane is destroyed and she’s forced to show her great powers. The Russians take her prisoner. In exchange for the lives of their parents, the girls agree to become figureheads for the Motherland: Supergirl and Stargirl.

In Berlin, Joker’s Daughter and Zatanna are preparing to bring about something monstrous to help the Nazis.

This is a very interesting reimagining, with many, many female characters. Big Barda is part of Waller’s organization. However, the story has lots of storylines, which makes it a bit fragmented. However, I’m sure all the storylines will join near the end. Personally, I would have liked to know the characters more and more about the world. Now we get quite short scenes with each character focusing heavily on the plot.

Zatanna is an interesting, conflicted character. She’s the daughter of a Jew and a Romani. So, Joker’s Daughter is essentially blackmailing her into working at the club and with the magic. Meanwhile, Diana, Mera, Kara, and the rest are very straightforward heroic people.
Despite having lots of artists, their styles actually seem pretty similar, so I didn’t have a problem with the art.

This is loads of fun! The only section that didn’t work for me was the Harley Quinn one, others I quite enjoyed, even if the art is rather cheesecakey.

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The very first BoP collection. Collects BLACK CANARY/ORACLE: BIRDS OF PREY #1, BIRDS OF PREY: REVOLUTION #1, and SHOWCASE ’96 #3, BIRDS OF PREY: MANHUNT #1-4

Writers: Chuck Dixon, Jordan B. Gorfunkle
Artists: Gary Frank, Stephano Raffaele, Matt Haley, Jennifer Graves, Sal Buscema

I’ve read the Birds of Prey comic for some years and when I bought the newest version (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey) it was time for a reread. Despite her prominence in the cover, the Huntress is in only one story, the last one.

These are the very first stories where Barbara Gordon, as Oracle, and Dinah Lance, as the Black Canary, work together. In the first story, Dinah’s life is a mess and Oracle actually saves her by recruiting her to get close to multi-millionaire Nick Devine. Apparently, he helps African countries to get high tech and become wealthy and has become himself quite wealthy, too. But recently, his efforts have been undermined by eco-terrorists. He’s a notorious womanizer but Dinah manages to get hired as his bodyguard. However, he already has a bodyguard, Lynx who is the queen of Gotham’s Chinese mafia. She’s not happy to see the Canary. Things get more interesting when Nick takes both Dinah and Lynx with him to Bwunda.

In the next story, Oracle sends Dinah after a white slavery ring. The job takes Dinah to the Caribbean and a small island paradise Santa Prisca. In this story, Barbara and Dinah disagree enough that they discontinue their friendship.

However, in the next story they’re back together. Lois Lane and Dinah are both investigating a slaver place in US. They bond over their romantic troubles.

In the final story, Manhunt, the Canary is after Braun, a former one-night-stand who turned out to be a criminal. Huntress is also after him because he made her fall in love with him and the dumped her without a word. The Catwoman is after him because he didn’t pay her. Against Oracle’s advice, Dinah teams up with them.

Barbara has been paralyzed from the waist down. She’s a wizard with computers and directs Dinah through earpieces. She’s very analytical while Dinah is quite passionate and rash. (In fact, I don’t think Dinah was this rash in the JLA.) But she’s also very good at crimefighting. Of course, she has been the Green Arrow’s partner for years.

I mostly enjoyed these comics but they aren’t the best Birds of Prey stories I’ve read. I also really enjoyed the small reminders Barbara has in her office that she was Batgirl. However, all of the women are very sexualized in the art. In the final story, the women’s motives were exceptionally weak. They also talk a lot about their former boyfriends and bond over how they were dumped. I don’t think that male superheroes do the same, except maybe Spider-Man.

While this a superhero comic none of the main characters have any superpowers.

Stand-alone graphic novel.

Writer and artist: Jill Thompson

This graphic novel follows the path of princess Diana from a spoiled child to a superhero. It’s quite different from other WW origin stories.

Diana grows up the only child in Themyscira and therefor she’s spoiled. Almost all the Amazons love her and try to please her anyway they can. They also give into her whims. This seems a bit strange, given the Amazon’s history and because they are often depicted valuing humility. But there’s one Amazon who doesn’t adore her and so Diana becomes obsessed with trying to make Alathea her friend.

Unfortunately, this story makes Diana a bad person: someone who verbally abuses her sister Amazons and even lies and cheats. This does make her more a human, of course, so she wasn’t born with an infallible moral compass; instead she has to learn to do good things. However, it also makes this Diana a fundamentally different person from the canon Wonder Woman. She’s motivated by trying to atone for past sins rather than by compassion.

The artwork is lush and gorgeous. It looks like painted pages rather than a comic book, which suits the Amazons and their mythical story well.

Collects issues 1-4. Elseworlds comics.

Writer: Ron Marz
Artists: Igor Kordey
Publisher: DC, Titan comics

Bruce Wayne is opening a new wing to the Gotham Museum of Natural History and to fill it up he has also funded an expedition to Africa. Finnegan Dent has brought all sorts of interesting stuff to the Thomas and Martha Wayne wing from Africa. At the wing’s opening, Bruce meets Lord Greystoke.

At night, Catwoman breaks into the Museum and steals some pieces. Both Batman and Tarzan confront her. She reveals herself to be a priestess of Sakhmet, princess Khefretari from a secret African city of Mamnon. She’s only trying to get back pieces which was stolen from her city. It quickly turns out that Dent is a rogue and thief rather than an archeologist and he wants more of the secret city’s treasures. Tarzan and Batman want to protect Khefretari’s people and confront Dent. So, the trio travels to Africa and travel to Mamnon.

This isn’t Earth shatteringly good but it’s a quick read. As an Elseworlds comic, none of the other familiar Batman characters appear and Batman even says that he doesn’t any partners, so no Robin in this universe. Marz teases us a little with the name Dent and what happens to him later.

This isn’t the environmentalist Tarzan I remember reading about in comics in my youth (in Finland. I have no idea where they originally came out.) but a more violent man who has no qualms about killing animals or humans to survive. Batman is sternly against killing and chastises Tarzan a couple of times. Even though they’re somewhat similar, being both orphans, they have quite different worldviews.

Sadly, I didn’t care for the art at all.


Collects issues 11-18.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Marc Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Lan Medina, Bryan Talbot, Linda Medley, Craig Hamilton

This collection starts with a stand-alone tale of Jack. He’s the hero of several fairy tales, such as Jack the Giant-killer and he also had the magic beans. Issue 11 is set during the American civil war and Jack fought on the Confederate side. When the war starts to go badly for his side, he leaves. During his travel, he encounters a strange old man and plays cards with him. It turns out that the old man is none other than the devil himself and soon Jack is playing for his soul.

Next up is a two issue story where our stalwart fables unite against one human man in order to keep their existence a secret from humans. Tommy Sharp is a good investigative journalist and he’s dug deep into Fabletown’s history. He makes the mistake of calling on Bigby before exposing Fabletown. Now, Bigby, Jack, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming, Boy Blue, Flycatcher, and Bluebeard have to protect their secret.

Next up is the Storybook Love storyline. At the end of the previous volume, Snow White was shot and she barely survived. She’s now well enough to move around slowly with a cane. Meanwhile, the villains from the previous volumes have teamed up and have hatched a plan to kill Snow and Bigby but out of town. Since they won’t leave voluntarily, the villains make a spell which forces them to go camping together in a place far away from everyone else. They have just one tent and the consequences of that are seen at the end of the volume.

Goldilocks is after Bigby and Snow with a rifle. After they survive their car crashing down a mountain side, they trek through the woods together and we get to know a bit more about Bigby. Back in Fabletown, Prince Charming has somehow ordered the mouse police, Liliputians riding intelligent, talking rats, to spy on Bluebeard.

The final issue is again a stand-alone. This time, Bigby tells Flycatcher about how the Liliputians came to the Farm and how they got brides.

Overall, this a good collection where characters face consequences from their previous actions and a significant plotline is started. I really enjoyed the way that the fables dealt with the reporter, which was quite funny at first. The final issue is also quite charming.

At his best, Willingham does a great job of balancing humor and horror, and the horror isn’t always violence and splatter. He’s not yet at his best in this collection but pretty good. The characters are starting to grow to their personalities, especially Bigby and Snow. Snow’s actually not a very exciting person; instead she’s a very good byrocrat: methodical and organized but without much humor or imagination. Bigby is very much like Wolverine: experienced warrior and killer who has a compassionate side and is struggling with his enhanced senses all the time.

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Marc Buckingham, Steven Leialoha

After the events in the previous volume, Snow is taking a banished character to the Farm which was referred to earlier. Unfortunately for them both, the people at the Farm are tired of the situation and are planning a revolution. Fabletown is where human fables can live, among the mortals and part of the larger world, but in their own little part of New York city. The non-humans are sent to the Farm which is literally a farm on the countryside. They even have a small town for lilliputians. But there’s not much to do and so they’re amassing weapons so that they can retake their lands from the Adversary. Wayland Smith is the man in charge of the place but when Snow and her sidekick (so to say, saying who it was would spoil the first volume) get there, they can’t find him. Soon, Goldilocks, the three bears, the Three Little Pigs, and various others are in full-scale revolt and even turn Snow’s sidekick against her. Unfortunately, they’ll first have to ”convince” or kill the other fables of their aims. And they start by killing one of the pigs.

Meanwhile, Boy Blue is trying to hold down the fort in Fabletown.

I really enjoyed this volume, more than the first one. It’s full of various fairy tale characters, like Cock Robin and Raynard the Fox in addition to the pigs and the bears. The bears are horrifyingly comical. And oh yes, the Jungle book makes the first appearance in the person of Shere Khan.

This volume still has some scene setting: the Farm and some characters are introduced to the readers. So, now that we know them, the writer can really start to torture them. 🙂

Note: I’m a fan of the series. I love most of the characters and have hugely enjoyed the ride. I first began to read the series about five years ago and without knowing anything about it.

Writer: Michael Uslan
Artists: Peter Snejbjerg

This is an Elseworlds story, an alternate universe where Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman. Instead he joins the Secret Society of Detectives.

Gotham City, 1929. Bruce’s parents are killed and he is the same determined boy who goes overseas to study so that he can fight criminals. However, when he comes back ten years later, he finds out that Alfred has changed; he’s now a medical doctor. When a shadowy group of men want Bruce to join their secret society, Bruce also finds out that Alfred is one of them, detective 25. The society has also manipulated some things during Bruce’s training and he’s angry about it. However, he joins them.

The Secret Society of Detectives was founded to combat the Knights of the Golden Circle, a villainous secret society whose goal is to destroy one of Northern USAs cities. The Knights were founded right after Civil War and they were responsible for killing Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the years, they have recruited a lot of members, especially doctors an biologists, and acquired a lot of newest scientific advancements. In response, Allan Pinkerton founded the Secret Society of Detectives.

The comic has two timelines: one starting in 1939 and starring Bruce, and one earlier starting with 1865 and depicting the adventures of Allan and William Pinkerton and Kate Warne when they try to defeat the Knights. The story has a surprising number of historical characters, such as Freud and Babe Ruth.

This is an exciting story and it rolls along smoothly even though the two storylines have separate casts. Even though we don’t see Batman, there are a lot of references to his old villains and there’s even a moment where Bruce is thinking that he needs a disguise to strike fear in the hearts of criminals – and then the doorbell rings, he gets up and goes to the door and he never sees the bat in the window. I also enjoyed how Bruce suspected Alfred a couple of times. After all, they have been apart for a long time.

I really enjoyed Snejbjerg’s art which is clean and moody, and fits the story well.

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