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Comic Reviews: Ladies of Marvel & DC

I’ve read more comics and graphic novels so far in 2016 than I had in my entire life before January. I resisted reading comics for the longest time because I found them so intimidating, but I finally took the plunge and started reading whatever seemed interesting. Of course, this meant a lot of superhero stories because as was made evident in my Superhero YA video, I love the superhero story arc.

I’ll admit that I’m much more of a Marvel fan than DC, but this month I picked up two DC and two Marvel comics that sounded really exciting, so I’m going to share my reviews with y’all! While I know the larger Marvel universe much better than DC, I was still able to dive into these stories and really enjoy them.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listed Kamala Khan in my Superhero YA Books I’d Love to Read post, and reading the first volume of her arc as Ms. Marvel only cemented that opinion. Kamala is such a wonderful MC – she’s brash and defiant, but she’s got a heart of gold. However, some better/further explanation of how exactly she acquired her powers and how they work would have really helped (maybe this will come up in future issues). I loved seeing Kamala’s home life alongside her first forays into superhero exploits, and it was so refreshing to see positive Muslim representation in what is usually a boringly WASP medium. I did find that her family members where portrayed a bit stereotypically at times, but hopefully that something that is improved upon in later volumes. I’m definitely going to continue with Kamala as Ms. Marvel, and can’t wait to see what she gets up to next.Ā 

Batgirl, Vol. 1: Batgirl of BurnsideBatgirl, Vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Aside from Alicia Silverstone in Batman & Robin, this was my first formal introduction to Batgirl as a character. I loved this modern day millennial take on Batgirl, and the every day life portions of this volume ended up being some of my favorite scenes. I loved the artwork, especially how the female characters are drawn. There’s a brilliant cameo from Dinah/Black Canary, and she totally stole the show from Babs more often than not. While I liked the style of this, I found the actual plot to be somewhat lacking. Individual issue conflicts/story lines were tied up a little too easily, and the overarching plot of volume one had me scratching my head and whispering “wtf.” And once again, it was solved rather simply. I really came to adore Babs, so I’ll likely continue with her arc, but I hope that future issues have story lines that are match the epic art style.

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, MoreCaptain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Going into this trade, the only thing I knew about Captain Marvel was that Kamala Khan (aka Ms Marvel) idolized her. I knew that Carol Danvers was an iconic member of the Avengers and larger Marvel Universe, but I went into this newer arc blind. You don’t get Captain Marvel’s origin story in this volume, but thanks to a child’s drawing in the first few pages I got caught up to speed. I really came to like Captain Marvel throughout this first volume, and she’s a badass pilot who’s not afraid to fly into space and fight a sky full of spaceships on her own. There’s even a cameo from the Guardians of the Galaxy! The art style wasn’t my favorite, but I appreciated that it was bold like Captain Marvel, so it still felt cohesive. The storyline itself felt a bit too “white savior,” especially in the last two or three issues. I might pick up volume two, but this first volume didn’t blow me away.

Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham AcademyGotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boarding schools are one of my all-time favorite settings, so I was predisposed to like Gotham Academy. It’s been highly recommended by several of my favorite YouTubers with comic-focused channels, so I decided to finally pick up volume 1 and see what the fuss was about. First, I have to say that the art is BEAUTIFUL, and the coloring was so amazing that I had to stop and just take it all in before moving on to the next page. I also really liked that we get a cast of characters in this, instead of the usual superhero vs the world. Olive is the main character and narrator, and things were hinted at in this first volume that make me really excited to see what happens to Olive in later issues. Although there wasn’t a lot of closure at the end of this, I liked that we’re clearly setting up for a longer, more involved story arc at Gotham Academy.

View all my reviews

After reading my very first DC comics, I’m definitely intrigued to read more! I think Black Canary will be next on my DC list. Do you have any comic recommendations, Marvel/DC or otherwise? Let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Comic Reviews: Ladies of Marvel & DC

  1. Disclaimer: this is long and rambly because I have a lot of thoughts on DC and recent comic shenanigans apparently

    I've heard a lot of general grumbling about New 52 Batgirl, primarily because I pal around with DC fans who've been in the game longer than I have, and I tend to agree with what I've seen. It sucks to have Babs back in the cowl, instead of Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain, and it definitely sucks for us to be down a disabled character (The Killing Joke is a misogynistic mess but it did result in Oracle). The stories might be fine in a vacuum, but as a Batgirl book starring Babs it just doesn't hold up. Though I've heard the Gail Simone run is better.

    A lot of things published in DC after 2011/2012 are just. Really weird and questionable, honestly. The universe reset from Flashpoint caused a compressed timeline, shoving decades worth of history into a five year timespan. One of my favorite characters went from being a century old ghost to a man who's been dead for a few years. The longest running relationship in comics ended due to an aversion to “happily married.” A popular supervillain team disbanded and needed to learn the value of friendship.

    What it comes down to: tread comics with the New 52 sticker with caution. Some of the stuff, like Gotham Academy, is excellent! Some of it is rather subpar (I'm rather okay with the New 52 Flash comics, but I know a lot of older fans of the Rogues don't like it). Anyway, for recommendations:

    The Spectre – John Ostrander
    Birds of Prey – Gail Simone
    Under The Red Hood (has an animated adaption that's a fair amount better) – Judd Winick
    The Long Halloween – Jeph Loeb
    Bombshells – Marguerite Bennett
    Constantine – Ming Doyle

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  2. Addition, because I realize I left out crucial behind-the-scenes stuff: The New 52 is technically over, with the recent launch of Rebirth (it was released the same day as the “Cap was always Hydra!!” reveal, for time frame). A lot of issues are in the process of being fixed but the problems still remain and with the corrections being so recent, it's pretty confusing to new readers and I'd advise against it as a starting point.

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