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Batwoman #13 (DC): This issue is so utterly gorgeous and enjoyable, as Kate and Diana journey deep under the sea to Poseidon’s realm, toward what Diana describes for her DCU readers as an “Amazonian Arkham Asylum,” in search of (I think?) Medusa, but I don’t really recall if that’s correct or how it relates to the child abduction investigation Kate is on. Anyhow, the dynamic between these two amazing women is just incredible. I love how Jim Williams depicts Diana, maybe even better than Cliff Chiang, which is itself a Herculean task. They make a great combination, representing darkness and light with wonderful interplay, sizing each other up, one slightly awestruck, the other one more curious, while possessing god-like powers akin to Superman. They ultimately come to view each other as equals, but it’s all in the journey, you know? Jim Williams fills the entire book with these lush two-page spreads, but the thing is it doesn’t feel gimmicky even in the slightest. I was actually about half way through the book before I even realized that’s what was happening. They descend into the ocean in a two-page spread, then through an elaborate maze (loved the Minotaur sequence), we get to see DEO Director Bones (always a joy) and Agent Cameron Chase, Kate and Diana buried alive, a flash-bang, a Flamebird, and JH3 just. keeps. slinging. them. for the entire book! Every one of them bears a different aesthetic that is rooted in artistic purpose. It’s got this great organic feeling to it, and is certainly one of very few bright spots in THE NEW 52. Grade A+.
Cyber Force #1 (Image/Top Cow): Ok, so the first 5 issues of this print comic (and/or digital if you prefer) are FREE thanks to a very successful Kickstarter Campaign (though if you follow me on Twitter, you know that some unscrupulous LCS proprietors are trying to charge $2.99 for it!). It’s a great way to try and build a fan-base through a no-risk first arc incentive. I have no knowledge of the original Cyber Force (one of the few 90’s Image titles I totally missed), but I seem to vaguely recall that Ripclaw was the brother of Warblade over in WildCats(?). Anyway, I assume that writers Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins are sort of pulling a Prophet here, reimaging and continuing the story based very loosely on the original premise and characters. It seems to be a totalitarian regime of the future, featuring a “fast-mover” protagonist girl named Carin Taylor, who encounters some of the old Image characters, like Heatwave, Cyblade, Impact, Ares Prime, Ripclaw, and even Aphrodite (another old Top Cow property). The art was far better than I expected, thanks to the team of Khoi Pham, Sal Regla, and Sunny Gho on pencils, inks, and colors respectively. None of those people would really be on my “get” list of talent, but it all really comes together. They squeeze a lot of emotion out of the characters, with loads of flashy color and sense of place, not just necessarily mindless action. It’s perhaps a little too “Hunger Games,” but I also really enjoyed the post-apocalyptic world they built; one in which overpopulation leads to starvation leads to isolationism leads to wars leads to the “Aphrodite Protocol,” which supposedly enhances folks to adapt to the harsh conditions. The script occasionally uses some zingers like “accelerated eventuality,” which definitely sound like the type of real-world cutting edge scientific principles that Matt Hawkins is using over on Think Tank and applying to speculative fiction. I also just got a kick out of scanning through the Kickstarter Supporters, noting names like Andy Lanning, Sergio Cariello, Ross Campbell, and even Peter Hamboussi (who I happen to know is an editor at DC Comics). Now, the million dollar question (or rather, the $2.99 to $3.99 question) is really: would I pay full price for this? Probably not at this point, but I will continue to pick them up and see if it can hook me. There was nothing that I strongly didn’t really like about it, it just didn’t grab me or feel terribly consequential. But, when the content is FREE, audience complaints are heard on kindness alone. Grade A.