Tag Archive: Ardian Syaf


Supergirl screencap

… or is it The Devil Wears Prada, the Superhero Edition?

In The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway played a smart but awkward gopher/assistant for a wealthy and mean editor-in-chief boss played by Meryl Streep.  In CBS’s new series Supergirl, Melissa Benoist appears to be playing a smart but awkward gopher/assistant for a wealthy and mean boss in some media industry gig played by Calista Flockhart.

Actually the entire preview comes off as–awkward.  Flockhart, in the “devil” role, seems like some kind of emotionless, one-note, robot.  Is she going to end up being some kind of android, an actual series supervillain?  And the feel is exactly that of CW’s The Flash–the most lighthearted of the superhero TV series flooding our airwaves.  We love a good superhero series, especially a new superheroine, so bring it on, but is this really just going to be a female version Grant Gustin’s naïve and good-hearted hero on a rival network?

Supergirl clip

This Supergirl also has little tying her to the comic book incarnation of the character, at least as far as we can tell from this first preview.  She does have the look of the popular Felicity Smoak from CW’s Arrow.  She is certainly adorable, but why does the superheroine have to be this junior superhero character?  When will we get a superheroine on film on equal footing with the male superheroes?  Check out this nearly seven minute preview of Supergirl for yourself:

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MissFury010-Cov-Tan  MissFury010-Cov-Syaf

The borg.com selection for best comic book series of 2013, Dynamite’s Miss Fury, continues to be an action-filled series in 2014, full of time travel, parallel histories, and an update to a classic and nostalgic superheroine.  Add to that mobsters, Nazis, the Philadelphia Experiment, atomic age scientists, and an interstellar timeship, and the result is just plain fun.

Writer Rob Williams, artist Jack Herbert, and colorist Ivan Nunes have merged the future with the past, and thrown in some new, cool, supervillains on par with Deathstroke and the pantheon of bad guys from the Arrow TV series.  Stuck out of time, Marla Drake has met and killed herself, and now she is forced into continuing to be an assassin to try to save a man from her past.  But violent recurring, mind-numbing headaches are catching her off-guard, the result of popping across time.  Can she take control of her actions and stop the madness before her own time is up?

MissFury010-Cov-Calero  MissFury010-Cov-Worley

After the break is a preview of Miss Fury, Issue #10, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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BlackBat001-Cov-Campbell

You wouldn’t be off base thinking of Batman when you see the superhero The Black Bat, as their history and origin is linked in controversy.  Both The Black Bat and Bob Kane’s Batman derived the look of their characters from common pulp fiction renderings.  Both characters emerged at about the same time and the publishers Thrilling Publications and DC Comics sparred over rights until a DC editor who had worked with The Black Bat’s publisher mediated the dispute where both publishers could continue using the characters.

Which brings us to 2013 and Dynamite Entertainment.  Dynamite has the rights to publish The Black Bat along with the great pantheon of classic 1930s and 1940s characters we have discussed before, including the featured characters in their ongoing series Masks: The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato, Miss Fury, Black Terror, Zorro, and The Spider.  But don’t confuse the Black Bat with a similar modern noir retro-creation, Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle from Dark Horse Comics, which we previewed here at borg.com earlier.  But both The Black Bat and The Black Beetle are different enough and similar enough that if you like one you probably will like the other.

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Bionic Man vs Bionic Woman Issue 1 Chen cover

A borg serial killer is on the loose, making his way from Kansas City to somewhere nearby Lawrence, Kansas, 40 miles away.  OSI has video footage of his last rampage, taking out several agents.  The results aren’t pretty.  OSI has identified a well-established, horrifying M.O.

Unlike the OSI-created menace from Phil Hester’s Bionic Man series, Oscar Goldman has no idea who is behind this new villain.  But he’s going to loan Steve Austin to the FBI to attempt to sleuth out the answer to that question.

Meanwhile in Manhattan (presumably Manhattan, NY and not Manhattan, KS) Goldman has set Jamie Sommers (sometimes spelled in the book as Jaime) on a mission to a stripper club to bring in an international arms dealer.

Bionic Man vs Bionic Woman Issue 1 Lau cover

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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