Faith: California Scheming by Jody Houser, Pere Pérez, Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran

Faith: Hollywood & VineFaith: Hollywood & Vine

by Jody Houser, Pere Pérez (Artist), Marguerite Sauvage (Artist), Colleen Doran (Artist)
Series: Faith Vol. 2

Paperback, 112 pg.
Valient Entertainment, 2016

Read: January 20, 2018


This picks up right after the stories in Volume 1 — Zephyr establishes herself more strongly as a presence in LA, her alter ego Summer makes some more friends, and Faith goes out on a date to a comic con.

I’ve already had to return this to the library, so I can’t remember character names — sorry. Faith’s a major fan (has had recurring romantic dreams about) this super-hero/action film star who’s some sort of amalgamation of Chris Evans/Chris Pine/Chris Hemsworth. I don’t know if Faith’s obsession with goes back before the limited series, but it’s well established. Faith does meet him in this collection, and . . . I was disappointed. That story felt too rushed, too hurried — at the same time, I’m not sure what else could’ve been done with it — and the brevity of the interaction between the two served the story. Still, I felt cheated after all the build-up.

That’s actually a recurring theme for me when it comes to this collection — I thought the story telling was a bit more shallow in this collection than the previous, but somehow I enjoyed these stories more. Unlike the limited run, there are a variety of stories being told — some about Faith, some about her super-heroing, some about her social life as Summer — so given the width and breadth of the scope, they couldn’t get down too deep. Still, I want more depth; I want richer, more developed characters — but I want them to be as fun as this collection.

Is that asking too much? Yeah, probably. Still this was fun. It made me like the characters more and want to spend more time with them — which sounds pretty good to me.

I don’t think I have anything to say about the art here that I didn’t already say about the previous collection — there’s some good stuff here.

Fun characters; shallow, but entertaining stories; spiffy and attractive art — this collection has everything you’d want. This is a series to get into.

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3 Stars

2018 Library Love Challenge

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Faith: Hollywood & Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage

Faith: Hollywood & VineFaith: Hollywood & Vine

by Jody Houser, Francis Portela (Artist), Marguerite Sauvage (Artist)
Series: Faith Vol. 1

Paperback, 112 pg.
Valient Entertainment, 2016

Read: January 12 – 13, 2018


I knew practically nothing about Faith/Zephyr before picking this up. I knew that Valient had put out a comic starring a full-figured female super-hero — which seems as unlikely as Superman developing a tolerance for Kryptonite. So when I saw it this collection on the Library shelf, I had to grab it. I had a little bit of a learning curve about this hero/her powers/backstory — but Houser’s script made it easy to catch up (or at least feel caught up).

The characterization — of Faith as well as her coworkers, allies and foes alike — worked well. I dug her secret identity — which is not the same as her real name, which apparently everyone knows (as well as her super-hero identity, Zephyr). Yeah, the fangirl nature of Summer Smith is a bit shallow, but I like the intent and in time, I can see Summer being the kind of character I can really get into. This collection focuses on Faith getting used to her new life in LA and establishing Zephyr as the city’s hero. This brings her into contact with web journalism, a reality show, and SF TV show starring actual aliens (not that anyone knows that).

The only false note, for me, is that while Faith is a clearly overweight person, the book ignores it. As someone who shops for varieties of XL, I appreciate that — and her size makes no difference to her powers or ability to be a hero. But she lives in L.A., Faith is featured on a Pop Culture Listicle site, etc. I cannot believe that it doesn’t get more mention. The idea that in image-conscious LA a large woman can go about her business boldly without having to deal with that commentary is harder for me to swallow than the idea that a large woman can fly using the power of her mind while taking on extraterrestrials and other baddies.

I dug the art — it served the story, was attractive, and was very dynamic. The dream/fantasy sequences by Sauvage were great, too. Both Portela and Sauvage captured the feel of the story and characters well.

All in all, this is a comic as charming as the protagonist — light, fun, and just what the doctor ordered.

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3 Stars

2018 Library Love Challenge

Some Assembly Required by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau

Some Assembly RequiredThe Bionic Man, Vol 1: Some Assembly Required

by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau (Artist)

Trade Paperback, 248 pg.
Dynamite Comics, 2012

Read: February 16, 2016


I was a big fan of The Six Million Dollar Man as a kid, and when I got a little older I stumbled onto — and devoured (repeatedly) — Martin Caidin’s Cyborg. Throw in a strong appreciation for Smith’s work? And I’m clearly the target audience for this (so why did it take me 3+ years to read it? Good question).

The main story hasn’t changed: Steve Austin is a test-pilot, horrifically injured — almost killed — when a test flight goes wrong. A team of experts save his life, rebuild him with bionics, and set him loose fighting for truth, justice, and the American way and so on.

The story was nothing special — good, solid action/adventure story. There were a couple of nice twists on the TV show’s story/characters. Just enough to keep it updated and fresh. I’d have appreciated something closer to Cyborg, but I understand why they made the choices they made. Austin goes up against his bionic predecessor, who has gone rogue and now is running around attacking and raiding technology companies. The battle scenes may have been a bit too big and epic — but they fit in with the current cinema trends, so, I guess they worked.

I was sure I’d seen Jonathan Lau’s art somewhere before, but from what I can tell, I haven’t. Which is a shame — it’s great. I’m not going to say that it’s my favorite comic art — but it’s exactly what I want comic art to look like. Which seems like a contradiction, but let’s move on. Yeah, some of the gestures are over-done, and a couple of the men are just too huge. But otherwise, dynamic, easy to tell character-from-character, nice detail, overall very attractive. I’d be willing to give a book a second look just because of his art in the future.

There are some nice references — visual and verbal — to the TV series that are pretty seamlessly worked in. Which I appreciated — looks like the next volume will be less subtle about it (which is not necessarily bad). I’m not going to say this was a great comic that leaves me chomping at the bit for the next, but it was worth the time and entertaining. Not much more to ask for.

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3 Stars

The Batgirl of Burnside by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart & Babs Tarr

The Batgirl of BurnsideBatgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside

by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart (Writers), Babs Tarr (Artist)

Hardcover, 176 pg.
DC Comics, 2015

Read: February 10, 2016


My dabbling into The New 52 continues . . .

Like everyone who has at least one social network account, I was deluged by images of the new Batgirl uniform back in 2015 — and I dug it. I liked the Cassandra Cain incarnation of the character — but had missed just about all of them post-Barbara Gordon, who didn’t do much for me (I was a big Oracle fan, in my defense). So I decided to give this a shot when I saw the collection. Oh, so glad that I did — the best of the New 52 comics I’ve read so far.

Barbara Gordon’s in some sort of tiff with Dinah Lance (I’m assuming it’s Lance, didn’t care enough to check), she’s moving out of her old digs into a very trendy, hipster part of Gotham (the part that Nolan or Burton never showed) with a roommate she met doing physical therapy while working on a Master’s/Doctorate with a predictive algorithm that will probably go on to turn Gotham into Minority Report or will be Oracle. Doesn’t take her long to need to do the Batgirl thing, so she slaps together a new costume (her old equipment was no longer available) — the purple leather coat and sneaker thing — and gets to action.

(you can really tell I’m into detailed research here in that paragraph, can’t you? Well, maybe not today)

There’s a new gaggle of friends, mostly university based, who help her tremendously. There’s a romantic interest or two, conflict with the cops, some good stuff with Dinah, a brush with celebrity culture, and a few laughs. It’s light-hearted when it can be, kick-butt when it has to be. Which pretty much sums up Barbara, too.

The art? Wow. I don’t know how to describe it, but it makes you think of an animated show, it’s fun, it’s dynamic — it absolutely wouldn’t work for a lot of titles, but this one has enough spirit, enough joie de vivre, that it works perfectly. It supports and doesn’t distract from the story, just what you want from comic art.

I really dug this, and hope that this version of her sticks around for a bit (as I write this, I’m fully aware that she’s likely morphed at least once into something more Christopher Nolan-esque) — I’ll be looking for more of this one for sure.

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3.5 Stars

Traps and Trapezes by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows

Traps and Trapezes Nightwing Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes

by Kyle Higgins (Writer), Eddy Barrows (Artist, with Geraldo Borges, Eber Ferreira, Eduardo Pansica, Paulo Siqueira, JP Mayer, Trevor McCarthy)

Trade Paperback, 160 pg.
DC Comics, 2012

Read: January 20, 2015

So all the New 52 Teen Titans were checked out of my local library, so I grabbed this to continue dipping my toe into DC’s experiment.

Nightwing and I go way back to my days reading The New Teen Titans, I read the issue where Dick unveiled his new identity something like 1.6 million times, and spent a lot of time following his solo title.

This was a different take on Dick’s return to the circus home of his youth, revisiting his parents’ death as well as other tragedies. Naturally, a costumed assassin comes after him and drops some bodies. Leading to Dick learning a lot more about the circus’ present and past (changing the way he had to look at many things).

There were a couple of brief detours from the hunt for the assassin. One was a brief supernatural story in the midst of all of this — it felt pretty strange in the context, but it worked. The other was a quick team-up with Batgirl to take down a shapeshifting thief. I really liked that story and the relationship between Dick and Barbara there.

Barrows art was fine — sometimes really good. Some of the other stuff? Eh, not so much (some of it was really nice, though). I thought it was an interesting choice to make the Flying Graysons’ costumes look like older versions of Nightwing’s costume, I remembered them being more classic Robin-y, but this worked for me. I’m not crazy about the red instead of the blue on Nightwing’s costume, but I can deal with it, I guess.

On the whole, there was nothing really “New” about this “New 52” Nightwing — Barbara as Bat-girl was nice, maybe some of the revelations in the last couple of pages — but basically this was a Nightwing story. Nothing wrong with that.

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3 Stars

It’s Our Right to Fight by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth

It's Our Right to FightTeen Titans, Vol. 1: It’s Our Right to Fight

by Scott Lobdell (Writer), Brett Booth (Artist)

Trade Paperback, 168 pg.
DC Comics, 2012

Read: December 17, 2015


I haven’t picked up a DC collection in ages — and longer for a single issue. The whole New 52 idea both intrigued and annoyed me, and I just didn’t want to invest the time. But I saw this on the shelf at the library the other day, and figured, why not? It was the Wolfman/Pérez run of The New Teen Titans that got me into comics as a kid, and I enjoyed the first twenty or so of the Geoff Johns version in 2002-on before I stopped reading comics for a while. So it makes sense, that if anything was going to bring me back to DC, it’d be The Titans.

So, we get a variation on the Superboy clone being deployed to take out young metahumans. Really? They reboot the entire continuity just to redo stories like this? ooookay. It was fine as far as that goes, nothing special, nothing terrible (although, I thought Superboy’s crisis of conscience could’ve taken a bit longer to resolve) — it was primarily used as a device to get Red Robin (as always, hate the name, love the Bottomless Fries) to gather the troops. We’ve got Cassie/Dont-call-me-Wonder-Girl, who is…okay. We’ve got a new-to-his-powers (or is he?) Kid Flash — he’s pretty annoying and cocky, really, but I’m willing to see him grow.

There are three new characters — Bunker, a name almost as dumb as Red Robin, sort of Ice-Man without the chill, I like him, but think he schtick could get old; Solstice — who seems to be serving the role Raven did back in the 80’s, but I could be wrong; and Skitter, a weird arachnid looking person, I’m not even going to try to guess what I think about her without more exposure.

This is almost all set-up, with just enough resolution to call it a collection and move on to the next. It’s hard to say what I think of the storyline or characters until I se some more, but I don’t mind it. I’m not sure I like it, but I don’t hate it.

Biggest beef: Red Robin freaks out at Kid Flash early on in a way that makes no sense for someone over the age of 6 to do. I really don’t get that at all.

Booth’s artwork was nice — nothing that blew me away, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read a new (to me) comic that had art that nice. It feels like I’ve seen his work before, but looking through his credits, I’m not sure where. Very dynamic, loved the creepy vibe of Skitter’s look.

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3 Stars

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane FalloutLois Lane: Fallout

by Gwenda Bond
Series: Lois Lane, #1

Hardcover, 303 pg.

Switch Press, 2015

Read: June 27, 2015I’d love to be able to talk about this book as a YA adventure tale on its own. But I can’t. It’s Lois Lane, fer cryin’ out loud. Lois the intrepid, fiery, determined journalist. Not the ditz, not the comic relief, not the damsel in distress (except for the distress she finds herself in because she plunged into danger, not as a victim). Sure, she’s sixteen and a rookie when it comes to reporting things — but she’s gotta start somewhere.

Not only is this Lois Lane, but it’s teenaged Lois. So you have to think about this in terms of Smallville, well I have to, anyway. Bond’s Lois isn’t Smallville‘s — she’s closer to Chloe Sullivan (just with less tech savvy). Actually, if we’re talking WB shows, Bond’s Lois is Veronica Mars without the cool dad. But she’s not just smart and tenacious. She also gets people — she may have no social skills (or not enough of them), but she can read a person. Early on, Lois sees what’s going on with the other girl in the news staff pining after one of the guys. There were other examples, but putting that one where it was — and the way Lois saw it — makes you believe her “reads” of other people.

After spending her life bouncing around the world, from base to base, and seeing the negative effect it’s having on his daughter. General Lane gets himself a permanent assignment to Metropolis (the exact nature of which isn’t clear — but what teenager cares that much about what their parent does?). Lois is going to put down roots here, too, and not get in trouble at school — a resolution that doesn’t last through first period. But, this draws Perry White’s attention as he visits the school, and he invites her to join a new student news project. From there, Lois and her new colleagues uncover a story that involves a strange mix of cyberbullying, VR gaming, and group psychology.

Sure, the story she uncovers is about outlandish, a little hopefully) hard for us to believe. But, hey, this is a book based on comics. So yeah, outlandish works. It also allows Bond to make some subtle (maybe overly subtle) remarks about group-think, the dangers of our online society, and so on.

The use of Gen. Lane, Lucy, Perry White and the Daily Planet were inventive, but were consistent with the source material. Which was both a relief, and a key for the book working as well as it did.

Her friends aren’t that developed — but there’s enough of them to be more than cardboard cutouts of high school stereotypes. I look forward to learning more about them all — I think Maddie’s the most entertaining and interesting, but I’d gladly see more of the others as well. Which goes for East Metropolis High as a whole, really. I hope in future installments that Lois can find someone other than the school secretary to dupe to accomplish her ends.

She doesn’t do much with him, but I enjoyed Bond’s treatment of Lois’ online friend, SmallvilleGuy. Someone she met online after posting about seeing something inexplicable in the middle of Kansas. Bond doesn’t try to hide from the reader who this guy is, or play games with us — the nickname is a dead giveaway. Still, it would’ve been easy for Bond to pretend for a couple of books that this stranger was someone new to the canon. Instead, she plays it straight — sure, she has some fun because we all know a whole lot more than Lois does about this guy, and what their future will hold. But she doesn’t do it at the expense of either character.

Fallout was engaging, fun, and an inventive contemporary take on a timeless character. Recommended for comic book types who don’t mind a different look at canon and/or people who like CW dramas.

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3.5 Stars