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Tag Archive: Gail Simone


Terminator EOME cover 1

Dark Horse Comics has been keeping busy this year, forging ahead in some interesting new properties.  We’ve got several pages of five new series for you to preview, from new arrivals coming to stores in February, courtesy of the Oregon-based publisher.  These include some big, classic franchises: Conan, Terminator, and Tomb Raider, with a new story, too: The White Suits.

Click on the below images to enlarge.

First up is a preview of Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy Issue #1, written by Dan Jolley (Bloodhound) with art by Jamal Igle (Supergirl), a story that takes place a year after the first film in the series:

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Red Sonja by Doran

This Wednesday Dynamite Comics will take on a reboot of the fierce and beautiful she-devil with a sword, Red Sonja.  We’ve previewed Issue #1 and were happy with the result–full of swordplay and the mythic dialect you’d expect from the heroine originally found in the pages of Conan the Barbarian.  The big news is that the new series is written by Gail Simone.  Known for many comic book series, but particularly her gutsy Batgirl and Wonder Woman, Simone’s fans will find her Red Sonja a worthy new addition to the pantheon of strong women characters in comics.  With some nice classic Conan-style artwork by Walter Geovani, Dynamite will no doubt have a winner with this new series.

Red Sonja by Scott

Simone’s Red Sonja story has bits and pieces of archetype characters and settings.  In Issue #1 keep an eye out for a new take on Akira Kurasawa’s classic save the village story.  She also includes enough backstory to allow new readers easy accessibility to the character and her medieval high fantasy world.

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The Movement banner

If you’re tired of the same superhero teams that have been around for the better part of a century (and even if you’re not) two new comic books offer new teams to get to know.  Remember Marvel Comics’ New Universe in the 1980s?  Star Brand, Nightmask, PSI-Force, Justice, D.P. 7, Kickers, Inc., Mark Hazzard: Merc, Spitfire and the Troubleshooters–I read them all.  Nightmask and Star Brand even returned this year in the NOW! series event.  But if you’re looking for something different from The Avengers of the Justice League, give these two books a look.

TheMovement1

First, coming in two weeks is the second issue of The Movement from DC Comics.   Gail Simone has crafted a new world within the DC Universe yet apart from the current New 52 activities.  She’s created a new team of street urchin types defending the poor and the downtrodden from bad guys and the corrupt police force that should be protecting everyone.  Artist Freddie Williams II has created a cool looking super force with Mouse, the “prince of rats” who enlists rodents in his crusade against the forces for bad, Virtue, who seems to be the leader of the team and has psychic abilities, Tremor, who can control her environment, such as causing an Earthquake with her touch, Katharsis, who is a character that resembles Huntress, but sports a set of mechanical wings and in Issue #1 was all badass against corrupt cops, and finally Burden, who has super powers but believes he is possessed.

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Movement fists

Fresh off their writing and art projects from New 52’s Batgirl and Green Arrow, DC Comics creators Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II are bringing real-world politics “Occupy Wall Street” style this May in their new monthly series The Movement.

The advance industry catalog Previews.com provided the following teaser this week:

We are faceless. We are limitless. We see all. And we do not forgive.
Who defends the powerless against the GREEDY and the CORRUPT? Who protects the homeless and poverty-stricken from those who would PREY upon them in the DARK OF NIGHT?
When those who are sworn to protect us abuse their power, when toxic government calls down super-human lackeys to force order upon the populace... finally, there is a force, a citizen's army, to push order BACK.
Let those who abuse the system know this as well: We have our OWN super humans now. They are not afraid of your badges or Leagues. And they will not be SILENCED.
We are your neighbors. We are your workers. And we are your children.

Win.  Count us in.  Where do we buy the RISE bracelets?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Put aside the hurricane that was 2012’s New 52 reboot from DC Comics, and one year ago if someone would have said that Barbara Gordon would have her own solo title again as Batgirl, and a successful title at that, most DC fans would have had doubts. Then with the announcement that Gail Simone was giving Barbara the use of her legs again, add controversy to those doubts.  Batgirl had an uphill climb, but with the changes DC had previewed before the launch, it also became the title causing the most curiosity for readers.  How would they give her back the use of her legs?  Where would she fit into the new DC universe?

If you haven’t read Batgirl, the first six issues of the groundbreaking DC series will be reprinted in a hardcover edition this July, titled Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection.  With 52 graphic novels coming out over the next few months, most readers will be selective about which to seek out.  Batgirl is one of the keepers.

Where Batgirl really soared in this story arc begins with the cover work by Adam Hughes.  One of the artists whose superheroine work is in a small league of the very best, his style conjures up a 1940s aesthetic, and his colors scream retro.  His Batgirl may very well be the best ever rendered, including when compared to the stunning Alex Ross revamped version that Hughes seems to work from.  If only he had the schedule to draw the entire book!  That said, Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf has developed his own style with Batgirl’s ongoing story as the interior artist on the series.  Syaf’s style is expressive and his action sequences are fluid and powerful.  If Hughes makes Batgirl look both innocent and beautiful, Syaf rounds out her character by showing her as feisty and wily.

From the beginning, writer Gail Simone proved she knew her character.  The new Barbara was funny and endearing from the first page.  She shares her inner voice with us to contrast with her Batgirl-costumed exterior.  We didn’t know what will come of it, but she found an inquisitive roommate and a place she could afford to rent.  Her inner voice always determined, she forced herself to be confident, even though we sensed a lot of doubt in her about her abilities.  She’s young, but not too young.  She is a straight arrow, not gritty and also thankfully not vapid.  She is successful, but she’s nervous.

Chapter 1 of the story arc begins with Barbara already away from her wheelchair and already crime fighting.  Is it too soon?  She questions herself, and she indeed makes her first mistakes.  And she never forgets the crime by the Joker that left her in the chair in the first place.  Barbara’s foe in the first round is a baddie who is called the Mirror, a grim reaper type who carries a list of the soon-to-be-dead around as a checklist.  She gets knocked down.  She gets right back up.  She makes mistakes.  She tries to recover from her mistakes—both the long-term lesson learning variety and the instant kind–a bad kick or punch here or there.  With a quick-moving story line her decisions are split-second choices.  She has no choice, she must be focused.  Having the use of her legs return only in the past several months, all indications are that this heroine is engaging in the secret crime fighting gig too soon.  This is the theme of her character’s growth.

Chapter 2 of Batgirl helps readers understand Batgirl’s Gotham City.  We see real-life reflected here, or at least the over-development, economic strife and questionable priorities that make Gotham the worst of what is real in any society. We also see a microcosm of the individual, living the single life, trying to get through the mundane tasks of daily life.  Barbara Gordon is a poster girl for the individual in the big world. Like all of us, she is forging ahead.  Writer Gail Simone continued in this chapter to deliver the satisfying and snappy, Buffy-esque dialogue, that reminds us we’re talking about Batgirl here.  What stayed strong throughout the entire arc is the first person narrative, in the same style as Batman from Jeph Loeb in Batman: Hush.  She smartly comes off as the almost-Batman.  Batgirl’s positive outlook is counter-balanced with a well-constructed bad guy.

A weaker part of the story arc is Chapter 3, which had a lot to live up to considering the work on Issues #1 and #2.  For the first section, Barbara Gordon became a bit of Sandra Bullock in Speed, in a psycho-orchestrated opportunity to save a train from a bomb. For the second, she had some awkward catching up to do with dad, Commissioner Gordon.  For section three, she goes to pick up her Batcycle, which had been impounded in Chapter 1.  There she runs into Dick Grayson-formerly-known-as-Robin-who-then-became-Nightwing-then-Batman-and-now-he’s-Nightwing-again.  And an old, teen romance is rekindled, veiled as an effort by the Bat-team to get Barbara to dial back on the dangerous derring-do.  Barbara gives in a bit, but ultimately recoils into that comic book cliché of the superhero—“I just want to be alone.”  It’s not a bad follow-up to Issues #1 and 2, but the obligatory romance issue just seemed a bit too soon for the series.  Unfaltering is the visuals–Batgirl is both agile and tough balanced with naiveté and some real street smarts, and we know this from how she is drawn on every panel by artist Syaf.

Chapter 4 finds Barbara continuing to have nightmares that she reads as survivor’s guilt.  She has a heart to heart conversation with her roommate finally, but Barbara remains at a distance.  Her escape is to continue the pursuit of the Mirror.  In that, she uses her confusion and anger to take on a stronger opponent.  But she also uses the events of the day to develop her own strategy.  This allows her to try again with her roommate.  In the end she is visited by a ghost from her distant past.

We meet a new villain in Chapter 5, Gretel, who is able to make others act as she wishes through hypnotic suggestion.  This leaves her victims and the tools of her actions mumbling the number 338.  As Barbara attempts to sleuth out what 338 means, she must also deal with the return of her mother, who walked out on her, her little brother, and her father, Commissioner Gordon, when she was young.  As she ponders what is behind Gretel, she believes Bruce Wayne may be the next target of this new villain.  As she tries to save him, it appears Bruce has also fallen for Gretel’s hypnosis.

The final chapter ties up all the loose ends.  Gretel is not a one-note villain, but instead a mirror of sorts of Barbara.  Batgirl must capture Gretel, but she learns from her past, and instead of going after her alone, she smartly shares her information with Bruce.  In a  partnership with Batman, we even get to see Barbara as the main partner of the ad hoc duo in the scheme to take down Gretel.  Was Bruce really under Gretel’s spell?  The payoff for Batgirl fans is great.  For readers of the collected edition, the entire six chapter story also works as a complete piece, not simply the typical assemblage of six sequential comic books.

DC’s female superhero characters continue to flourish 9 months after the big launch.  Batgirl’s story bridges a lot of territory–she is a superhero with a rich past in the DCU: as daughter to Batman’s main partner in fighting crime, Commissioner Gordon, as the former crime fighter in a wheelchair called Oracle and member of the Birds of Prey, she carved out a niche for herself as the younger side of hero work and the trials of being at the beginning of a heroine’s career.  There is a reason we have a Batwoman and a Batgirl.  Gail Simone made sure Batgirl gets the respect she deserves but does not forget that she is and should be all about being a girl, and being a girl–as opposed to being a woman or a man or a boy–creates its own advantages for both the character and for storytelling.

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection is available July 17 at comic book stores and discounted pre-order now online.

It’s only four days until Free Comic Book Day is here again, and comic book publishers have several interesting issues planned for this year.  Free Comic Book Day is always about getting new people into the local stores to check out all that comics have to offer.  So plan to grab someone and take them in to check it all out.  Use it as your excuse to buy Issue #1 of several new DC Comics “New 52″ titles scheduled to be released this week.  Or make a day of it and drag your friends to see The Avengers at your local theater after you pick up your free comics.

Tons of comic book writers and artists–creators we have been talking about all year at borg.com–will be on hand across the country (and beyond) to sign autographs.  Just check out this partial list, including many of this year’s Eisner Award nominees:

Ed Brubaker (Sleeper, Captain America) in Canoga Park, California; actor Burt Ward (Robin from the 1960s series) in Los Angeles; Philip Tan (Savage Hawkman) in Rancho Cucamonga, California; Gail Simone (Batgirl), Amanda Connor (Green Arrow) and Chuck Dixon (Batman, Green Arrow) in Port Richey, Florida; George Perez (Crisis on Infinite Earths) and Greg Horn (Ms. Marvel) in Sanford, Florida; Mike Norton (Battlepug, Green Arrow) in Chicago; Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Irredeemable) in Muncie, Indiana; David Petersen (MouseGuard) in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New Hampshire; David Wenzel (The Hobbit graphic novel artist) in Worcester, Massachusetts; Jason Aaron (Wolverine, Avengers vs X-Men) in St. Louis, Missouri; actor Adam Baldwin (Chuck, Firefly) in Omaha, Nebraska; Francesco Francavilla (The Lone Ranger) in Charlotte, North Carolina; actor Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych, Law and Order), in Hilliard, Ohio; Jeffrey Moy (Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes) in Madison, Wisconsin; and Nicola Scott (Earth 2) and Ardian Syaf (Batgirl) in Singapore.

And there are plenty of interesting free comic book issues offered exclusively Saturday.  Check out these titles:

   

   

   

   

Definitely something for everyone, and for all ages.

Comic book stores typically have other things planned, too, like giveaways, and specials on back issues, even cake.  More details and a store locator can be found at the official Free Comic Book Day website.  Don’t forget to check it out–it’s just four days away!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three years ago Barbara Gordon was shot and sustained spinal damage by the Joker.  The crime was detailed in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s controversial Batman: The Killing Joke, the first slick prestige-formatted comic book and one of the best looking comic books of all time.  Since then Barbara Gordon has been in a wheelchair. During the past three years Barbara had dropped her Batgirl costume for a computer and became the brains behind the Birds of Prey as the character Oracle, along with Dinah Lance/Black Canary, and Helena Bertinelli/Huntress.  She’s been living with her father, Commissioner Gordon, all the while.  And a miracle happens–she can walk again.  Now she wants to “spread her wings” and move out on her own.  That is where we meet Batgirl in the new DC Comics “New 52″ Batgirl series.

It is only fitting that Gail Simone, who in recent years has spent more time creating Barbara Gordon’s voice than anyone, scripted the first new universe Batgirl story.  She understands the character and is my argument for why writers should stick with characters longer than they seem to be allowed at DC and Marvel.  Especially when the writer gets it right.  If you invest a lot of time in a character, you get in his/her skin and begin to think the character’s thoughts.  You get that feeling with Batgirl.

Obviously the “three years” in the wheelchair as Oracle is in DC universe time, since Batman: The Killing Joke was published 23 years ago, back in 1988.

The new Barbara is funny and endearing.  She shares her inner voice with us to contrast with her Batgirl exterior.  We don’t know what will come of it, but she finds a new roommate and a place she can afford to rent.  Her inner voice is determined, and she forces herself to be confident, even though we sense a lot of doubt in her about her abilities.  She’s young, but not too young.  She is a straight arrow, not gritty and also thankfully not vapid.  In the first story we see her crash a home crime, similar to what Gordon faced with the Joker.  She hasn’t been in the superhero business physically for years now.  She is successful, but she’s nervous.  Simone shares that the shooting will never leave this character, although we get the vibe that this series will be about moving on.  The art is clean, Batgirl looks good in her costume and the panels and design are creative.  Nice work all around by artists Ardian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes.

Fans have asked numerous questions: Why pull her from the wheelchair?  As a model for disabled people, what is DC saying about people with disabilities–to be heroes do you need to be able to walk?  All these are fair questions and Simone has attempted to answer them this summer.  Ultimately this is a character and maybe DC thought every piece of her story as Oracle had been written.  And where else but comic books can a character live a dream that may not be able to be fulfilled with a person in an actual, similar circumstance?  It is difficult to say anyone but Simone could have handled this transition with the same level of grace and alacrity.  But it shows that no fan is free from the change in this new set of series.  The risk with so much change at once is simply human nature–humans don’t like change.  So everywhere you look in the new titles, something will be off-putting to everyone at some point.  What Issue #1 of Batgirl does successfully is wade right through those questions and deliver a new, fresh story that has promise.

The new Batgirl could be the lead in Veronica Mars. She could be a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or the writers will create someone who makes her own mark.  Not the Batgirl from the TV show, or the Batgirl from the Batman and Robin movie, but someone with the same energy and optimism.

First off she will need to encounter a new villain called the Mirror, who she meets at the end of Issue #1.  And her first big encounter is brief–and a failure.  Luckily for us readers, Batgirl Issue #1 is not.  Looking forward to Issue #2 next month!

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