Tag Archive: Gail Simone


Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of James Bond have six reasons to check out a new graphic novel arriving tomorrow at comic book stores everywhere.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007: Reflections of Death combines the writing talents of comics creators Benjamin Percy, Greg Pak, Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Mark Russell, Vita Ayala, and Danny Lore, with the artwork of Dean Kotz, Luca Casalanguida, Kewber Baal, Eoin Marron, Robert Carey, Jordi Perez, and Fay Dalton.  The result is a single graphic novel finding Moneypenny kidnapped and drugged, forced to recount some telling exploits of our favorite 00 spy.

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The first major variant comic book cover event of 2020 launches tomorrow as the landmark 750th issue of Wonder Woman arrives at comic stores everywhere.  As with last year’s Detective Comics Issue #1000, DC Comics will feature a set of decade-inspired cover art variants plus a sketch cover version, joining an incredibly rendered Joëlle Jones standard cover with Wonder Woman holding the Earth on her shoulders (which might be the best of all), all available in most comic book stores.  Nearly 40 other variants will also be available if you’re willing to track them down, from retailer incentives to artist and store-exclusive issues.

Look for homage covers by Joshua Middleton (1940s), Jenny Frison (1950s), J. Scott Campbell (1960s), Olivier Coipel (1970s), George Perez (1980s), Brian Bolland (1990s), Adam Hughes (2000s), and Jim Lee and Scott Williams (2010s).

 

The first story features writer Steve Orlando and artist Jesus Merino wrapping the Year of the Villain arc.  DC announced previously that a story by writer Scott Snyder and artist Bryan Hitch will basically reboot the DC universe timeline, establishing Wonder Woman as the first DC superhero.  Other stories were created by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, Gail Simone and Colleen Doran, Marguerite Bennett and Laura Braga, Mariko Tamaki and Elena Casagrande, Kami Garcia, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Riley Rossmo, and Vita Ayala and Amancay Nahuelpan.  Readers will also find pin-up art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ramona Fradon, Bilquis Evely, Travis Moore, Liam Sharp, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

So which is your favorite cover?  Check out the final covers and original cover artwork below:

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Munchkin_05_A_Main    Sabrina_03-0

It’s another big week for comic book releases.  This week we’re featuring previews from some titles from Archie Comics, Dynamite Comics, and BOOM! Studios that we think you’ll be interested in.  We’ve kept our tabs on many books this year, especially from the independent publishers.  The best reads this year have been produced by writers and artists from the independents.  Let’s take a look at previews from six issues coming to comic book stores everywhere tomorrow, Comic Book Wednesday, May 27.

Munchkin is based on the popular fantasy card game, and the series has kept up with the spirit of the game, and offers something for everyone.  It’s now up to Issue #5, written by Tom Siddell and Shannon Campbell, with art by Ian McGinty and Rian Sygh.  Published by the BOOM! Box imprint of BOOM! Studios.

Like Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of those series from Archie Comics you just can’t pass up.  From its new Archie Horror imprint, the series is now on Issue #3, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, with artwork by Robert Hack.

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From Dynamite Comics we have the next tie-in to the Swords of Sorrow event series, Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade & Kato, a one-shot issue.  Written by G. Willow Wilson and Erica Schultz with art by Noah Salonga, this will be a must-have if you’re following the big mash-up series of the year.

Also from Dynamite Comics is the next issue of Red Sonja, Issue #16.  In addition to the classic fantasy art cover art with each issue, Red Sonja has some of the best interior work being published, thanks to artist Walter Geovani.  Gail Simone is writer on this series.

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Sorrow01-Cov-D-Sub-Hack    Sorrow01-Cov-G-Incen10-Lotay

Nothing in the past five years has been more fun as far as comic book events are concerned than Dynamite Comics’ ever-growing crossovers incorporating their huge roster of licensed characters.  The New 52 and Convergence events from DC Comics and the Secret Wars event from Marvel Comics are so much more of the same–pulling in dozens of titles and character crossovers over the course of several months.  All of these publisher events attempt to reinvigorate their brands–to bring more people in to try out the regular monthly series featuring their stock of characters, whether you’re looking at the Avengers or the X-Men or the Justice League.  Dynamite’s events also pull from their stock of characters, yet the publisher has managed to unleash something very new in the way these characters come together.

Dynamite’s Masks limited series introduced a pantheon of superheroes from the literary past: Green Hornet and Kato, The Shadow, Miss Fury, Spider, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Green Lama, Black Terror and The Black Bat (a second limited monthly follow-on series, Masks 2, is underway now).  Then Bill Willingham expanded and amped up the Dynamite characters with his Legenderry steampunk adventures.  Another limited series, this one introduced the Six Thousand Dollar Man, teaming up with a parallel world, steampunk era Red Sonja, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Green Hornet, the Phantom, and more.  It now has its own expanded event series of sorts with Legenderry universe monthly series featuring each of Vampirella, Red Sonja, and Green Hornet.

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But Dynamite’s best crossover event series may have just arrived with writer Gail Simone and artist Sergio Davila’s new Swords of Sorrow.  A dark prince has enlisted an arsenal of women warriors to defend his interests, including the well-known red, horned villainess Purgatori.  But a mysterious and beautiful otherworld woman called the Traveller has assigned various swords to her own select group of women warriors via the Courier, across time and space–from Everywhere and Everywhen to Nowhen–to defend worlds menaced by this prince.  Her heroines include Red Sonja, Vampirella, Irene Adler, Dejah Thoris, Jennifer Blood, Jane Porter, Lady Zorro, Milan Kato, Masquerade, Black Sparrow, Miss Fury, Pantha, Lady Rawhide, and Jana the Jungle Girl.

Leading a select team of women writers in nine Swords of Sorrow tie-in series and one-shots, Gail Simone has her challenges here, required to pull together more than a dozen main characters quickly, explaining enough to let us know who they are for those unfamiliar with them all, and set up enough world-building to let us understand how they all fit together.  This may be the best we’ve read of any series from Simone so far, as Issue #1 of the six backbone issues gives us all we need to get excited to see what comes next.  Sergio Davila’s artwork is as detailed and interesting as his work on Legenderry, sure to keep us interested to come back for more each month.  Check out the full checklist of the crossover series below.

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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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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.

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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.