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Graphic Novels

Greg Rucka - Wonder Woman: The Lies - Vol.1

"This is very exciting new territory, indeed."

Synopsis:
Wonder Woman has always been a figure of strength and honour. But who is she really? Not even Princess Diana knows for sure. Memories of the life she has led whisper on the edges of her mind, showing her true self. Most shocking of all is that Diana cannot find her way back to Themyscira. Despite being in the world of man, she has always been able to make her way back to the island of her birth. Now it is closed off to her, the island vanished.

Diana must make an uneasy alliance with her former friend, Barbara Ann Minerva, now known as the feral beast-woman, Cheetah. Will Minerva help Diana find her way home?

Review:
This is a new story arc under DC's main heading, 'Rebirth'. This is a very interesting new take on Diana's life. Has the Themyscira she remembers all been one big lie? First, to make any answers to her many questions, Diana must help Cheetah bring down the man who turned Minerva in to this beast. I found this new incarnation of The Cheetah quite fascinating.

Greg Rucka brings us a fresh new angle on our favourite Amazon warrior. For decades we have felt we know Diana of Themyscira. Now Rucka tears down all Diana knows and literally pulls the rug from under her feet. Has her whole platform been built on foundations of lies?

Other interesting points that piqued my interest were the portrayal of Commander Etta Candy who seems to have been taking pills to turn her in to an Amanda Waller clone. Plus, we have the strange relationship between Steve Trevor and Diana. I feel there is more to be revealed. One thing I found bizarre is that this collection contains issues 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 rather than in chronological order. The even number issues arrive in Vol.2 which is now on sale. Is this DC's new way of getting people to become more involved in a story arc or just to sell more copies? Whatever the reason, this feels as though Wonder Woman has taken yet another significant turn in the twisting path of this particular Amazon. This is very exciting new territory, indeed.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

George Perez - Wonder Woman Omnibus: Vol.2

"I give it five because this series was so ground-breaking."

Synopsis:
Continuing from his formidable re-imagining of Wonder Woman after she was obliterated from existence in 'Crisis on Infinite Earths', Perez pits Diana against old and new adversaries. However, it is the continued presence of Themyscira and the Greek Gods that lift this series, bringing the magic of her Amazonian heritage in stark contrast of the perils she faces from man's world.

Review:
This is the second omnibus edition of George Perez's amazing re-imagining of Wonder Woman from 1988 to 1990. To claim it as all Perez is a little misleading. Perez did the artwork for everything in Vol.1 finishing with issue 24. Here, he hands the reins over to Chris Marrinan and Will Blyberg. Although they do a great job continuing in the same vein as Perez, it doesn't have the crispness of Perez's artistic hand. However, saying that, it is still Perez behind the pen, so he didn't totally walk away from this astounding series.

Yes, it is a slimmer volume than Vol.1 and doesn't have any foreword or extras, which is a pity as this book still comes with quite a hefty price tag. Again, this has Diana involved with issues of her heritage along with old adversaries Silver Swan and there is a brilliant new origin for the Cheetah. New ones arrive in the form of Shim'tar and Eris, Daughter of Ares and her golden apples of discord, a storyline that also features Lois Lane. Story content is great and it is always a pleasure for someone like me who collected these comics back in the day to now have them all in one volume. Perez continued until issue 62, so I am hopeful of a Vol.3 with extras, please DC! This collects issues 25-45 and Annual no.2. I give it five because this series was so ground-breaking. Enjoy!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jon Morris - The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains

"...regardless how much we root for our favourite heroes, we always love a great super villain!"

Synopsis:
Every hero needs a villain, but not all villains are dangerous - some are incompetent, comical, or just weird. In his follow-up to 'The League of Regrettable Superheroes', Jon Morris presents over a hundred of the strangest, most stupefying supervillains to ever see print in comics. Meet D-list rogues like Brickbat (choice of weapon: poisonous bricks), Robbing Hood (steals from the poor to give to the rich), Swarm (a crook made of bees; Nazi bees), and many more.

Review:
In the same vein as his marvellous collection of Regrettable Superheroes, Morris turns his attention to some of the villains who have faded, some justifiably, into obscurity. From the very early days of comics, we are given a motley crew from across the decades from the forties with such characters as 'He-She', half man, half woman who preys on vulnerable women, marrying and then killing them for their money! Needless to say, any person would be suspicious at not seeing the right hand side of their husband during the first flush of marriage! This being the forties, there wasn't much on the issue of gender politics! We are also treated to the Horrible Hand, Mother Goose who is a serial killer and a femme fatale in the form of Veda, the Cobra Woman.

It is interesting that herein lie villains called 'The Puzzler' who looks remarkably like The Joker and Captain Marvel up against Spider Man (without the hyphen!). There is also a hero called Yellowjacket from 1946. Amazing how these names do the rounds!

More famous villains include 'Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man' from The Doom Patrol no. 89 in 1964. Not a title that trickles off the tongue! Captain America's old French rival, Batroc the Leaper is here, Modok from the pages of Ms Marvel and Egg Fu from Wonder Woman no.166 in 1965, Stilt Man who battled Daredevil and many other heroes and The Top who is best known as a member of The Flash's 'Rogue's Gallery'.

Morris finishes off with the 1970's to present day. Does anyone remember Doctor Bong from Howard the Duck? Nope, me neither. How about Mr Fish from the pages of Luke Cage, Power Man? I do remember The Head Men from The Defenders, though. This is one of those wonderful books you can flick through, read something interesting, put down again and then pick up some time later. It is the veritable coffee table book that will get many flicking through its pages. I had a great time re-discovering some old classics like Turner D. Century from Spider-Woman. I have that comic! Just as good as the Superheroes book, if not better as regardless of how much we root for our favourite heroes, we always love a great super villain!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

James Tynion IV - Detective Comics: Vol.1 - Rise of the Batmen

"This new ‘Detective Comics’ is an entirely different and magnificent beast from old."

Synopsis:
Batman has recruited Batwoman to take on new students – to bring them up to scratch for the oncoming war. What war, Batman isn't saying, however it takes everyone by surprise when they find out the 'war' may be nearer than any of them anticipated by 'The Colony'. This odd bunch including Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan and even one of Batman's arch enemies, Clayface come to blows with an army of Batmen who are ready to assassinate many within Gotham. Before the night is out, there will be casualties on both sides.

Review:
I am one of those old folk who remember the 'Detective Comics' of old when it was a B-mag. I would buy it when I had consumed my monthly Batman and Justice League comics and desperate to read something else. Normally, it would consist of short Batman 'one-shot' stories with a back-up featuring Batgirl, Robin, The Human Target, even The Creeper if my memory serves me right. Put it this way, it was one of the few comics still languishing on the shop shelf when The Batman and X-Men comics had been snapped up the day of arrival!

This new 'Detective Comics' is an entirely different and magnificent beast from old. I love the way Tynion has brought together these characters from the different spectrum of the DC Universe to make a 21st Century Batman Family. Clayface has always been one of my favourite villains in Batman's own 'Rogues Gallery'. Give Tynion a lollipop for putting him in the mix! Instead of a 'one-shot', we have a massive story arc – and boy is this one amazing story. It is moments like these that make me realise why I read comics in the first place. The whole feel is quite panoramic and breath-taking. The story is jaw-dropping and the art is amazing. There are twists and turns and double-crosses, sacrifices and a wonderful twist at the very end. This is one rollercoaster of a story and it appears there is more to come from the ending of this volume. If they can keep the momentum going, then this is one title that is going to be the one to beat! I could spend all day writing superlatives for this book. Just buy it already! One word sums it up… FAB-U-LOUS!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Grant Morrison - Wonder Woman: Earth One

"Morrison delivers a clever twist to Diana’s heritage."

Synopsis:
A unique retelling that still honours her origins. For millennia, the Amazons of Paradise Island have created a thriving society away from the blight of man. One resident, however, is not satisfied with this secluded life--Diana, Princess of the Amazons, knows there is more in this world and wants to explore, only to be frustrated by her protective mother, Hippolyta. Diana finds her escape when Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, the first man she has ever seen, crashes onto their shores. With his life hanging in the balance, Diana ventures into the long forbidden world of men. The Amazons chase after her and bring her back to Paradise Island in chains to face trial for breaking their oldest law--staying separated from the world that wronged them.

Review:
Grant Morrison is a god in the world of comics. Here he takes a new twist on the Wonder Woman myth. Morrison's version of Paradise Island is a steampunk version of Greek mythology sitting alongside futuristic technology.

Princess Diana has a burning for something else, although she doesn't know what that is. Her mother sees man's world through a mirror, but Diana is not allowed to see what her mother views. She finds it all very frustrating. It is only when she finds Col. Steve Trevor washed up on the beach, that Diana takes drastic action.

Hippolyta sadly appears to rant and rave about the evils of men after her slavery at the hands of Hercules, tarnishing all men with the one brush. After Diana escapes with Trevor to man's world, she is brought back to Paradise Island in disgrace, chained and standing trial.

Morrison's tale melds the old with the new. We have a wonderfully sassy Etta Candy who is back to her old buxom self. She wonderfully provides the humour with a marvellous line, 'You're from a paradise island of science fiction lesbians? With a side of bondage? Honey, I'll drink to that!'.

Morrison delivers a clever twist to Diana's heritage. With Yannick Paquette's wonderful visuals, I really enjoyed this retelling of the Wonder Woman story. I just hope Morrison is already creating a follow up!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jeff Lemire - Descender: Vol.1 - Tin Stars

"The story grips from the get-go."

Synopsis:
One day, nine huge machines arrived around the Core Worlds of the Magacosm. They did not communicate with those on-world. Then, without any provocation, they attacked and killed millions… then vanished as quickly as they arrived. Worried there was a link between their domestic robots and The Harvesters, there was a big cull of robots. Now, ten years later on the moon of Dirishu-6, a young Robot boy TIM-21 has woken up alone. Those he classed as family and friends appear to have died suddenly and inexplicably, only skeletons left. But there is more to TIM-21. He may hold the key to what The Harvesters were – and now everyone wants the key TIM-21 unknowingly holds within him. A United Galactic Council craft has been sent to bring the robot back for analyses. But TIM-21's new companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet.

Review:
I always love a good Sci-Fi movie, but I never read Sci-Fi. Any titles I tend to read normally include a cape of some description! However, 'Descender' was highly recommended to me and I have to admit that I am converted.

The artwork from Dustin Nguyen has the feel of a tale being told through the medium of watercolours. This type of art adds flavour to the story and is quite sublime. The story grips from the get-go. There is a mystery deep within the heart of this story and you can feel that Lemire is going to peel away the layers slowly before revealing the truth behind TIM-21. This first volume has really caught my imagination and I will certainly be reading the next volumes. A very strong start to a story I can already see in my mind's eye unfolding on the big screen.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Dan Abnett - Aquaman: Vol.1 - The Drowning

"...one of the stand-out series of ‘Rebirth’."

Synopsis:
To bring the surface dwellers and the world of Atlantis on to the same platform, Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis has created an Atlantean embassy on dry land: Spindrift Station. But there are factions of the sea world who see the surface as an enemy and will play their part in dividing the two. The Deluge is one of those who aim to bring destruction to the land. But there is a greater menace who has a bitter blood feud with the King himself: Black Manta. Soon, not only is Arthur and Mera battling their arch-enemy, but the US army as well. It appears that Arthur's dream of a united peace is further than he ever hoped.

Review:
Abnett takes the stance of Aquaman being the third wheel in the Justice League. He was always the hero who was separate from the team, the one the public never quite trusted. Abnett uses this to show a man who is caught between two cultures, desperate to be heard amongst a cacophony of prejudices on both sides. It makes for much in the way of politics and in some ways mirrors the political tensions we see on our TV's today.

Arthur traverses a political landmine, trying his best to soothe the stance of both sea and land with many of the sea dwellers including their King, not used to being powerless to the dictates of the law of the land. It makes for very interesting power struggles. The latter part finds Arthur and Mera fighting the US Army to get to the sea to fight The Deluge. Not the best way to build bridges and confidence. An appearance from Superman shows the volatility of their long-standing friendship. In all, this is a very strong and assured start to this new series. I was a little apprehensive as Geoff Johns gave Aquaman such an amazing comeback during the New 52 reboot. However, it appears that Aquaman is in safe hands where Abnett is concerned. Again, for me, one of the stand-out series of 'Rebirth'.

Reviewed by: 7

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jill Thompson - Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

"...thought-provoking... "

Synopsis:
Join Princess Diana in her early years, as she develops into the formidable hero we know and love.

Young Diana has the fawning attention of her nation, but she soon grows spoiled and ungrateful. When a series of tragic events takes its toll, Diana must learn to grow up, take responsibility, and seize her destiny.

Review:
This is a new take on the legend of Princess Diana's informative years. Here, Thompson sees Diana's youth as a time when she was spoilt by her 'sisters', the only child on island. This leads to tantrums and self-aggrandisement on a magisterial scale. Diana laps up her sisters crowing about her whilst turning a blind eye to her vile and eruptive behaviour. It is only when Diana meets Alethea who is not in the least impressed with her behaviour.

Thompson shows a different path to Diana becoming Wonder Woman, how she cheats at the games that are to enable her to become the next Amazon hero. This is an interesting concept which I felt didn't work seamlessly. There did come a point when I felt Thompson had pushed the screaming brat Diana too far and had really abandoned any form of story. It isn't until Alethea comes on the scene that a story begins to take shape.

There appears to be more than sisterly love between the two and in some instances a definite lesbian overtone. Having been away from the Amazons for a while, I do not know if this is the latest thing which for some who have been reading W.W. for decades, could be a little disconcerting. I guess when you are on an island of women you are limited on whom to express passion and love. I am not sure how I feel about this take on how Diana became the hero we all love and who stands for honour. It seems Thompson has tarnished it a little with her tale, but it is thought-provoking nonetheless.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Dan Abnett - Titans: Vol.1 - The Return of Wally West

"...albeit in their new incarnations, Abnett allows echoes from the original 60’s/70’s series. "

Synopsis:
After 'Rebirth', Wally West is back in the real world – but nobody remembers him. But he remembers them. He remembers the young friends he had who had once been the Teen Titans. Now he must make them remember Wally West as their memories have been tampered with, taken, stolen, erased. Who has ripped these memories from different metas on this world? Why do some feel as though there is a hole where something used to be?

As Lilith tries to find the truth through Wally's subconscious, she triggers another memory – but this time it is someone they would prefer not to meet again – and he is mad as hell and out for revenge.

Review:
I loved the Teen Titans when I caught the very end of the original series! It had so much promise in 1977 with Mal, Bumblebee, Golden Eagle, Beast Boy, Harlequin aka The Joker's Daughter and Lilith. And then the series died! Thankfully, it was resurrected by George Perez and Marv Wolfman who sent this title in to the stratosphere. Since then, Titans has had many different line-ups. This one now has Lilith who was killed by a Superman android in 'Graduation Day', but now brought back to life through the storyline in 'Titans Hunt'. She appears to have taken the place of Raven now that the latter is with the Teen Titans and of course, Cyborg has been elevated to the Justice League. I hope you are keeping up at the back! As I said, there have been many shifts in this group. I like the fact that the originals are here: Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Lilith - albeit in their new incarnations, Abnett allows echoes from the original 60's/70's series. It makes it fresh while at the same time having that feeling that the old gang are back again.

This storyline brings back an old nemesis of the Flash, someone with a huge grudge against Wally West. Now he is back, Wally has to realise that it is not only the good that will be reawakened upon his return, but the bad and the ugly as well. Brett Booth's artistry is eye-catching although I did notice that everyone appears to have 'big hair' especially Wally… and the moustache on the villain of this piece (small clue for you there), is very flamboyant to say the least! The story finishes with a little teaser alongside the re-introduction of one of my favourite villains in the DC Universe, a certain one-eyed assassin. I will say no more. One thing I do hope is that Tempest isn't on the side-lines every time and that Lilith's powers are further explored. A strong start to what I hope will be an exciting series that appears to be faithful to The Titans mantle.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

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