Tag Archives: Gail Simone

WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA 2014 RECAP

indie comicsPay close attention to this man’s shirt. He was selling nothing…except prophetic insight as to what will lie ahead in the realm of comics at Wizard World 2014.

It’s not a slight, merely a marker of where profitability now lies in the land of geek. The high-end talent at this years’ extravaganza inside the Philadelphia Convention Center were squarely in line with the interests’ of the masses. Dr. Who, Walking Dead, the allure of huffing in these stars’ pheromones is what enticed the city of brotherly love (and Jersey). Instead of letting the waned presence of DC, Marvel and Image booths bother me this year, I decided to revel in my own interests outside the funny books and enjoy the exuberant squeals of fans when Whoopi Goldberg, the cast from Firefly would appear around corners. Even Curtis Armstrong, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, couldn’t walk six steps without a fan hitting his gate or stopping it completely.

I do believe both Marvel and DC should try to crush this bitch in ‘15 to prop up their incoming tsunami of serial movies. But that’s the future, in ’14 indie comics ruled and this even goes for those creators who sit or sat upon continuity high once. There were a handful of big guns, but 98% of them were more interested in passion projects and the future than what they are doing in the bigger publishing run books presently.

I also had so many WTF are the big two thinking conversations that I thought I was a Tron literally inside a message board. Many an indie publisher will be very happy in coming months at the invasion of talent looking to pillage their pages. I won’t drop the dime on any one creator; just know guys that if you could talk about this stuff amongst your circles you WILL find kindred spirits of frustration.

Comics – The Big Guns

neal adamsNeal Adams was on hand basically enjoying the just deserved spoils for his years of labor. Always willing to look up from commissions to share a story or an anecdote, he is the true pinnacle of what the golden comic years should be. His signature on material also isn’t that highly marked up. SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI was pretty close to retail. “Well, what about the creators that charge nothing Optimous?” They are rare and most are still working or talked about names.

JG JONES EMMA FROSTThis is the art of JG Jones. While I know his fame is steeped in DC and BKV I have a hard spot for Emma Frost. JG is working on something and will reveal it soon. He told me, but stole my phone and then slipped me a forget me now pill.

 

 

 

 

Jim Calafiore Jim Calafiore of X-MEN and many a’ other book fame, was on hand featuring a book he recently did with Gail Simone called LEAVING MEGAGOPOLIS. Spurred by fan outrage around the canceling of SECRET SIX, Jim and Gail decided to write a tale they wanted to tell about the safest city on earth until the heroes one day go bat shit. The part that intrigued me the most was the fact the entire story is told from the vantage point of normal folks trying to escape the city, which basically twists a one note concept into some high concept survival horror. Volume II is being talked about now.

 

 

mike s millerI’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – you want the pre 52 DC than look no further than INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. Don’t be faked into thinking this is some video game tie-in bullshit, this story packs punch and Mike S. Miller’s art is just as much to do with this success as Taylor’s words. Mike let slip that this book will most likely encompass the five year span that kicks off to the video game (we are in year two right now, so still plenty of time folks) and we might be seeing this book delivered weekly soon in the coming months.

 

 

Agnes GarbowskaI felt really really bad for the things I said about MY LITTLE PONY on this Ain’t It Cool – Poptards – Spoiler Alert – @Mark_L_MILLER – robpatey.com – @mattadlercomics podcast after meeting the book’s delightful artist Agnes Garbowska.

 

 

 

 

zenescope girlsNow, for all my bitching about lack of booth size presence, I will give credit to Zenescope for once again buying a sizeable footprint of space. While there is the cheesecake, this is cheese steak local company who I always give a chance before I get dismissive about some lovely lady lumps. I really really enjoyed the WONDERLAND SERIES, and I’ll admit bias here because I wrote the back-up stories, but also Mark Miller’s JUNGLE BOOK.

 

 

Ethan Van Sciver and Greg Capullo were also on hand. Ethan’s table was buzzing with ton’s of commission work and perusing so I didn’t want to halt a man making money and Greg’s line was 14 miles long. Sorry, I wait in no lines.

Comics – Small Budgets, BIG IDEAS

Again, the ¼ of the hall that was devoted to comics was comprised of 98% indie books. I didn’t cover them all; in fact I didn’t cover many this year. Frankly, for the first time I was discerning and editorialized my coverage as I was investigating.

the last west volume II see a pattern after covering this beat for the past six years, there are some books that will live and die here. Hey, you dig rolling this way and you can profit off your footprint, rock on. I simply can’t cover the same story year after year. This is a cool one and our first foray into the aforementioned indie prevalence, THE LAST WEST is an awesome premise and a quite finely polished book for rolling off presses not fueled by movie or mouse money. What if one family drove all human innovation and then said fuck you once they almost gave us the bomb? A 2014 very different than the one we know. Co-writer, Lou Iovino said Volume II is coming. Oh, for all of you upstarts looking for a best-practice Kickstarter template, feast your peepers on Lou and crew.

 

Gigio LongoADAM12 is a book set in hometown Philly, an apocalyptic Chinese run Philly where a man is seeking to reignite the Garden of the Eden, but still Philly. Written by Gigio Longo with art by a fellow IUP theater grad, Nick Suders, you can catch the first five issues of the six-issue arc now and the final chapter soonJustin .

 

 

 

TRAILER PARK OF TERROR is my one exception to greeting show staples. This redneck Tales from the Crypt has spawned a pretty well done movie and is a really really fun read with a ton of volumes for noobs to dive into. I’ll also admit a personal bias in the fact I am very good friends with one of the stars in the movie, the very talented Trish Stahl who plays Larlene.

night_of_the_80_s_undeadArtist Bill McKay describes NIGHT OF THE 80’S UNDEAD as George Romero meets John Hughes. 3 issues in with fourth on the horizon, I don’t know any child of Reagan who wouldn’t have been drawn to the cover with a zombie filled Delorean just as I was. However, it takes a super nerd to see the Justice League International homage on issue 2.

 

 

 

 

empire christine kerrickI was drawn to Christine Kerrick’s booth because it was such a serene juxtaposition to the rest of the sensory cacophony. Her comic EMPIRE with the beautifully drawn ascending bride on the cover was another strong pull. EMPIRE is a 3 issues series about a girl tragically falling in love amidst the events from the Book of Revelations.

 

 

 

 

primal paper comicsPrimal Paper Comics heralds from Norfolk Virginia and are self described as basically Image with no money. I was able to speak with Justin Cristelli about his title RED KNIGHT. This is the story of a man who was once one of the best superheroes until the day the government required a license. I also spoke with Jeff Hewitt about his book THE ENDS. This is about superheroes at the end of the world, the C and D list heroes since all the good ones have left town. What I like best about PRIMAL PAPER is they are doing this for the love of the game with the appropriate level of dedication. You need more than A book folks for a comic series, the boys at primal are well on their way with many months of material.

quirk booksQuirk Books is at the end merely because they are not quite a comic publisher. They are however firmly steeped in geek and even more awesome they are local to old city. Their books like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND  ZOMBIES and WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS are awesome reads and deserve every bit of the national recognition that put them on the map. They also have a new book called THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING that had one guy dressed as Blade and about as smart as Wesley Snipes afro believing he might actually touch a real woman.

The Merch

I have nothing against merch, in fact I love the world of branded items and statues. Sadly, I don’t have the square footage for cases and my freakish form means there is never a t-shirt or well…anything that can properly draw my 6’ 5” frame. This never stops my eye from wandering though. Now, despite my aversions, I am still aware and the marketer in me marveled at the utter stupidity of this year’s vendors.

cosplay girlsHere’s a tip, if you are selling something not in the realm of geekdom you still MUST have hot girls who are dressed in geek like fare. I’m talking to you foot insoles or iPhone paraphernalia. And even if you are hocking geek wares, still get some hot girls because folks like this dude, who was selling something Bluetooth related had more people in his stand than the rotund steampunk booth across the aisle. </sermon off>

 

 

 

stylinonline.com beltsStylinonline.com impressed me the most with their wide variety of wares. I hooked in by their several hundred feet of belts honoring all realms of geekdom. Dr. Who, superheroes, Sci-Fi…anything to keep pants aloft and butt cracks hidden.

Then, like any typical man, I saw stylinonline’s revealing lady ware. Since my cross-dressing has been relegated these days to Sundays and Christmas, my attention was easily drawn to these awesome robes. Be an Orange Lantern, be Robin, but most of all be comfy in these warm wraps. And yes, I felt the material. Where most merch is about as soft as cardboard, these were actually a really high thread count with a bit of down thrown in for good measure.

 

The Drive Away

Dr Who TardisIt was another great year at Wizard World Philadelphia, especially now that I have accepted the fact comics will no longer be the draw they once were. Honestly, I respecy Wizard immensely for not building false expectations. New York Comic Con has swung their percentages as well away from comics (percentage people, not raw numbers), but still keep the moniker in the title.

The world of geek is wide and vast and I will still valiantly try to get fans of geek TV shows into the comic book afterlife (talking to you bitchy chick dressed like Jane from Firefly who looked at me like I threw up on her shoes for even insinuating the continuity is moving forward at Dark Horse). Just as I was once entreated to watch an episode of Dr. Who after reviewing a comic book written by an episode author.

FOREVER EVIL WEEK 1 REVIEW ROUND-UP PLUS DARKSEID 1, VENTRILOQUIST 1, JOKER 1, BIZARRO 1

Forever Evil 1 coverFOREVER EVIL 1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka  Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

FOREVER EVIL is the crossover we have been waiting for…well…forever. That is if we all believe time began in the year 2011 with the end of FLASHPOINT. Court of Owls was good, Throne of Atlantis even better, but personally I’ve been waiting for a cataclysm that would truly test the mettle of our heroes beyond an emotional level.

Trinity War truly helped set the stage for this book in both plot and tone.  There are no subverses of light, magic, Bat or Supes — every character is going to be affected by this event as is clear in this week’s .1 holocover (if you were lucky) villainous deluge.

DC September events have become a staple at this point. Unlike the New 52 launch or the zero issues of last year, FOREVER EVIL is an apocalyptic treat for those of us ingrained in the universe. No exposition in the traditional sense and It also doesn’t waste one second jumping from the end of Trinity War to Lex Luthor flying high above…Chicago??????

That’s right kids Chi-town sets the stage for what is probably the best treat fangeezers will get this year. Lex is soaring the skies with none other than one Mr. Kord, a kind family man with a son in college who is a whiz with electronics (hint-hint-wink-wink). How DC will work two Blue Beetle’s in the universe remains to be seen or perhaps the one-half of the ole’ Bwahahaha will take on a new mantle. This could also lead to nothing at all, but you can’t blame a boy for dreaming can you?

This moment was also compelling because Lex has played a very gray area in years past. We know he’s not a good man, but is trying to make humanity self-sufficient truly evil? I don’t think so. The way he treats Pappa Kord though, leaves no room for doubt. If the company isn’t signed over, Lex will take this man to the pain destroying all he cares for before killing him. However,before lex’s schemes can come to fruition, possessed Cyborg kills the entire US power grid and let’s off an EMP blast just for good measure.

This blackout serves as the perfect cloak for the rest of the Crime Syndicate to begin their reshaping of Earth Prime into the perfect image of horror. One by one they hit every major DC correctional institution to release the hounds on a world unprotected. This is also so Crimey Superman can bust into Lexcorp to get a Kryptonite fix. Kudos to the creative team for having him grind it up and snort it like a college Freshman taking Adderall during finals.

With evil running amuck, the issue closes with a feat of SUPERMAN like daring we haven’t seen the real Supes even come close to accomplishing yet. Let’s just leave it at the world is now shrouded in metaphorical and literal darkness thanks to the positioning of an entire celestial body in front of the sun.

Superheroes, Superfeats, Super Sold on this event. Now let’s see how the expanded titles fared.

A NOTE ON VILLAIN’S MONTH: First off: Holocovers? Get them is you can, they do provide a unique dimension and depth to the imagery that titillated the same nerve centers as when I saw my first mini hologram on titles like ROBIN I-VIII back in the 90s. Now, before we get into the play-by-play of select titles, I have to honestly say the .1’s left me nonplussed. I really thought these were going to be issues of villains raping the land with reckless abandon as opposed to a deluge of straight-up origin stories (I know, I know…my fault for not reading Previews). Some were good, some not so good, but all in all none of them served to push the event forward. Again, decent reads in many cases, just don’t think you need these books to push you deeper into the Forever Evil story.

darkseid-1-coverDARKSEID 1
Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Paulo Siqueira & Netho Diaz

I didn’t love this book, DARKSEID’s new origin is an antiseptic story that’s simply too clean and not evil enough to convey the terror that Darkseid brings to the universe. Before he ran a planet that is the embodiment of death, Darkseid was a…mud farmer along with is Brother-in-Law, Highfather. That’s right, both of the newest and greatest Gods were…mud farmers.

Perhaps I am tainted by the recent origin of Thanos, where his pathos was given form and explored from childhood to today. I know many, including my fellow Spoiler Alert hosts, who found that to be too much of a Kimono opening. This in my opinion is not enough. There’s simply no fucking way a man with this much discontent would subjugate himself for any period of time especially not until adulthood.

Basically Darkseid sows discontent into the ears of the old Gods to get them to fight one another. I didn’t see this as a herculean feat though. First off, hey are kind of stupid. At one point mud and fire make out in a field. Next flaw, all it takes is one night for Darkseid to climb the most sacred mountain the universe and one whisper to each God to get them to turn. I’m sorry, but Gods should have more freewill than the average watcher of TMZ or the Bachelor.

So the old Gods kill one another and as a final fuck you bestow their last bit of power to Darkseid and High Father. The artists did an admirable job trying to make this story epic, but as we all know spectacle can only take a story so far.

I hope someone eventually gets Darkseid right. He scared the beejezus out pf me as a kid with his reckless regard for all life. Thus far in the DC Universe, he jumped up and went BOOM once. Oh, and he farmed mud.

ventriloquist 1 coverVENTRILOQUIST 1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist:  Derlis Santacruz

Odd that this title hijacked BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT, since this  vaudevillian Carrie has been the bane of Babs over in BATGIRL. For the uninformed this new addition to the evil line-up possesses telekinesis that she chooses to manifest in murder and mayhem. Her weapon of choice (as the name implies) is a dummy with corkscrew hands of eye gouging delight.

This character has one of the most interesting and intriguing origins of the entire .1 bunch. As the uglier and less talented of twins, her delusions started early. Her perfect Brother was gifted the looks and talents, while our future murderer was perpetually forgotten by her parents. Simone makes these moments come alive by never transcending to hyperbole. This little girl was simply forgotten, not beaten or abused in any fashion. However, this is more than enough to make any would-be diva lash out by pushing the attention whore of the clan off a swing set so the spotlight can shine where she wants it.

It wasn’t so much the origin or the bawdy mannequin who get “wood” so much you think the little bastard was actually ingesting Viagra that entranced me. Don’t get me wrong any kill killing a clown to get a dolly is aces in my book, but what I liked best was that Simone remembered there was a larger story going on than just the genesis of evil. The entire origin is told to reporter hanging from the gallows of a dressing room. The Ventriloquist is getting ready to take the stage and perform her death non-defying act to anyone stupid enough to enter her theater of lights and food during this Forever Evil crisis.

I can’t wait to see more of this character and the depravity she will wrought with her little boy toy.

Joker-Cover-1-Forver-evilJOKER 1
Writer: 
Andy Kubert
Artist: Andy Clark

Anyone remember the old Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle?” Basically, Harry laments the mistakes of the  Father being passed to the son, then watching the son make the same damn mistakes.

Naturally, the recollections of a madman should be taken with a lick of salt, but since this is all we have to go on, we’ll roll with it. In a time before he lost his face we see the old clown prince of crime adopt a wee baby gorilla from the zoo. During each step of raising Bobo, Kubert flashes back to a similar, but far more horrific hyperbole of The Joker’s aunt raising him. It’s not hard to figure out the Joker was abused as a kid, but seeing it happen still stings the little parts of humanity that remain inside me. No one should fuck with kids or puppies period.

I enjoyed this issue for every reason I disliked DARKSEID. I want my villains to be evil for a reason, not just because. Also, Kubert reveled in the madness of raising a gorilla and making him the Joker’s Robin. And the biggest joke of all is that when all was said and done, this was just another laugh for the Joker to have at the expense of his own humanity.

superman-BIZARRO-1BIZARRO 1
Writer: Scholly Fisch
Artist: Jeff Johnson

Why? Just…why? BIZARRO hasn’t done shit in the DC Universe before now, why did we have to bring him back and in such a…temporary form at that. That’s right Bizarro’s genesis is also his destruction.

Keep in mind I have deep a prejudice against easy silver age trappings like Bizarro’s backwards speak.  So it was going to take a lot to get me to like a character that even Grant Morrison couldn’t warm me up to. The backwards speak is gone, but so os Bizarro by the last page.

Essentially Luthor moves his Kryptonian DNA cloning clinical trials from animal testing to Phase I (that’s human testing on people who are healthy for anyone not married to a clinical data specialist). Fisch does an admirable job with the page count afforded to get us to empathize with the wide-eyed cherub injects with his Bizarro juice, but again he’s just an expendable element in an expendable story. Some Luthor gadgets chase the mad creature around before Luthor melts it with sun rays (opposite – get it).

The only reason I think this book exists is the fact Luthor is hatching another labeled B-O. But why would he name it Bizarro before this one went bizarro? Uhmmm…moving on.

Literally moving on, week 2 just dropped. Let me go write some reviews that will actually help when you get to the store this week instead of remembering when.


BATGIRL 19 REVIEW – Girl…Duh Duh Duh…You’ll Be A Man…Soon

Batgirl_19_COVERBATGIRL 19
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka  Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I don’t say this often, but no Taiwanese lady-boys were needed to get this guy salivating over BATGIRL 19. I refer of course to lame stream media’s fervor of activity over the reveal that Babs’ roommate tucks before he/she slips on his/her panties/boxers.  And before anyone asks, this was not the intended WTF moment from the gatefold cover – you don’t slide it open to see Babs’ kicking in the teeth of the “To Wong Fu” cast. Before I praise this book, I just had to lament the mores in states sans coastlines are about as progressive as an episode of Leave it to Beaver, and that 99% of the world still simply does not get the comic medium.

Don’t let my rampant immaturity give you the wrong impression; Simone used her usual grace and eloquence to broach the issue of Babs’ double-life and her roommate’s as well. It was sweet and endearing moment between two friends. Babs opened the kimono half-way to tell her BFF what the Joker had done to her in the past, without giving away the whole store if you get my drift. Likewise, her friend shared the fact that her clitoris isn’t some engorged appendage mutated like in a bad Ed Wood movie. This was about one and a half pages of the book. So next time you meet someone from the associated press please spit in their face and punch them directly in their transgender please.

This was one of the few WTF gate-fold books that provided an honest to God whollup of WTF. Of course nothing is really WTF these days thanks to the spoiler likes of…well…people like me, but still the execution can still deliver a gut punch even the concept leaks months ahead of time. How do I know? Because Simone did it in spades for this book.

I’m a sucker for James Gordon Jr., I have been since Snyder was crafting this little “freak on no leash” way back in pre-52 DETECTIVE. He’s not just creepy, he’s a level of insanity that I would say puts him on Joker level creepy. This guy relishes in the pain of others, but does it without an ounce of joy. He’s a new level of calculated killer that would have never enticed a silver age audience, but resonates fine and dandy in this new dark world we all live in. Simone does a great job reintroducing James’ particular brand of nutty by having Babs reflect on a moment in childhood when they would watch horror movies together. James doesn’t look away from the screen out of fear, but out of shame for the killer’s slasher sloppiness….Brilliant! Since then James was nuthin but trouble for the Gordon clan, culminating into his now outright vendetta against the family Gordon.

The true WTF moment asks whether Barbara will unleash the ultimate solution to stop JJ’s reign of dy-no-mite terror. She doesn’t do the deed, but someone else does and it TRULY was a WTF moment. I’ll also say it wasn’t Commissioner Gordon either. Of course  the door is left somewhat open as to whether James is actually dead, but ta the very least this oedipal wound is sure to sting for a bit. Palpable danger is set in place for next issue as Gotham PD witnesses this righteous murder from afar and makes the assumption that Babs is the culprit.

Simone is meant for this book, and I hope any future scuttlebutt about her leaving or jumping ship remains simply in the land of conjecture instead of sour grapes.

DEATH OF THE FAMILY REVIEWS: BATMAN 16, BATGIRL 16, BATMAN & ROBIN 16

death_of_the_family

DEATH OF THE FAMILY: BATMAN 16, BATGIRL 16, BATMAN & ROBIN 16

Writers: Snyder, Tomasi, Simone
Artists: Capullo, Gleason, Benes
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

A King, a bride, a prodigal son and a silver domed serving platter seeping with blood: This isn’t a Don Mclean song; it’s the latest happenings in the Joker’s reign of terror against the Bat-Clan. “Death of the Family” is the panacea of how events should be run, with the sum being greater than the whole of the parts while not forcing readers into imbibing every mother-loving book to understand what the hell is going on. Synergy has also been the mantra of this series. Each book has kept chronology straight and truly built off the last and this week’s books are the absolute proof in the proverbial pudding.

Now, since I’m a completest I’m reading every tale, even the ever so tangential DETECTIVE, but this is my compulsion at work, not a mandate from DC. Every character has their beef with the Joker, and with only a few weeks left we now stand at the precipice of his grand plan’s fruition.

Before we pontificate, let’s SEE what these penultimate series of books have to tell.

batman 16 coverBATMAN 16

Snyder delivers the most esoteric of this week’s offerings, with the motivations of the Joker still only being understood by him and him alone. He’s blathered abo;ut breaking up the family for issues now, so Bats could reach his full potential, but the means to accomplish this end seem haphazard at best. However, when dealing with a psycopath it’s probably best not to understand.  When last we saw Bats he was on his upward climb into the mouth of madness that is Arkham Asylum. Now Bats is cowl-deep in the crazies following a maze of gore that lead to his throne. Yes, the King has returned and his court consists of Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler and of course the Jester himself. Why Joker is anointing Batman remains unknown, the joy in this issue remains firmly steeped in Joker’s twisted sense of humor. Endomorphic inmates dressed as the JUSTICE LEAGUE, flaming horse torpedoes, and a double cross on his accomplices are what keep the pages turning. The issue ends as all will this week, Joker gently lifting the lid on a silver domed serving platter.

Batman_and_Robin_Vol_2-16_CoverBATMAN & ROBIN 16

Gleason still wins the award for creepiest representation of the Joker’s rotting Halloween mask. It’s attached, but not really. It’s intact, but not really. It’s creepier than Poltergeist’s Carol Ann in a movie with the two chicks from The Shining, really. While I’m still partial to Joker’s macabre puppetry with his flesh mask in last issue, Gleason does a great job of still making this the face of fear. Likewise Tomasi hits ever psychological chord expertly to make Damian believe he is in a mano-a-kido against dear old Dad in a fight to the death. Obviously it’s not, but Damian’s belief rips off his emotional scabs to reveal an epiphany that not all “bad” guys should be killed. As with BATMAN, the last page is the Joker serving Robin…something under a silver domed serving platter.

batgirl 16 coverBATGIRL 16

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate an unraveling of the mind. No, not Joker’s, that ball of yarn has already been undone. Barbara’s sanity is what’s at stake in issue 16 as she becomes the wedded wife of Mr. J. Why is the Joker suddenly interested in betrothing BATGIRL, well, we’re still not sure. Again, it has to do with tearing the Bat-Clan asunder, but it’s still inconceivable “how” Joker’s scheme will all come together. Benes balances beauty with horror in this issue, giving us one of the best rendered Barbara’s we’ve seen. I’ll also say there are a ton of other artists on this book, but not once was the shift jarring or out of place. Each artist hand-off was so perfectly timed with the movement of the plot chapters; I honestly thought the changes were merely Benes making stylistic shifts for mood. This issue also answers the age old question about how long Barbara was Oracle (or merely wheelie-bound) in the New 52. The answer, about a year. Simone delivers her final piece of goodness in redeeming James Gordon Jr. (sort of). Since Snyder took Jimmy J on in DETECTIVE, he has become one of my favorite new Bat villains. And clearly one of the Joker’s favorites as well. This issue, as with all others this week, ends with the Joker revealing something to Barbara under a silver domed serving platter.

What’s Next?

All right, now let’s speculate. The serving platter at the end of each issue this week is a pretty good indicator that Alfred is what’s for dinner. I find this to be too easy and convenient. I still don’t believe we are to take the “death” in “Death of the Family” literally. It’s too easy, and Snyder has already alluded to the fact Joker wants BATMAN separated from the family, but not necessarily shuffling off any of their mortal coils to achieve this end. Also, to kill Alfred would do anything BUT tear the family apart. Let’s be honest, they would band together to pound the Joker into white jelly if he touched one combed over hair on Alfred’s head.

Basically, we still don’t know Jack…or Joker.

BATGIRL 14 REVIEW – Babs’ “Face Off” with Joker

BATGIRL 14 COVERBATGIRL 14

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (AKA Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)

I’ll admit now, my dalliances with Barbara Gordon once she became the wheelie cool Oracle pre-52 was a “just the tip experience.” If Babs helped Bats, I was all over her L33T hacking skills, but as for her soo adventures and time with the other gals of Gotham – not so much. I have no regrets from a canon perspective, but I am woefully heartbroken and mildly embarrassed to have missed so much of the scrumptious Ms. Simone’s musings until this late in my comic collecting career.

I read BATGIRL #1 last year, but I’ll admit my analysis was rushed at best. There were a lot of titles churning out that month and my diligent commitment to broad coverage made me rush through the adventures of the now mobile Barbara. Also, I was carrying the butthurt of change into the reading experience, so no matter how wonderful Babs new life was I was damned and determined to scoff at her miracle of newfound mobility. Yes, even though she was no more than a necessary Google search to me before.

I realized the first error in my choice to shun Babs, inside the pages of BATGIRL 0 2 months ago. Then I had even more egg on my reviewing face with BATGIRL ANNUAL #1. Sweet Jesus what a beautiful tale about a lady Talon and the Frenemy relationship between BATGIRL and CATWOMAN. Finally, I was drawn into the die-cut cover that sat atop BATGIRL 13 heralding the beginning of “Death of the Family.” And even though the story was a wrap-up from the prior arc and had less Joker in it than the premiere of The Dark Knight Red Carpet, I was still moved by the relationships Barbara had formed in her life and fearful at the prospect of Joker once again darkening her doorstep.

When I received this week’s offering of Bat Fam Death, I immediately bragged about my new treasures on Facebook. About an hour later Dan Didio wrote me with the sage advice, “Read BATGIRL 14, you won’t be disappointed.” Despite my new infatuation with Simone and Batgirl, and the ringing endorsement from the EIC, I still went to my safe place inside BATMAN 14. It was great, stupendous even. Alfred is still being held by the Joker, and being subjected to some wonderful torture involving eyeballs and shock treatments. While Bruce and Dick are so fearful of being watched they speak in code even when alone and Harley Quinn becomes more unraveled as each of the Joker’s plans come to fruition.

It was BATGIRL 14 though that delivered the true terror as well as the spark of insight I needed to see what the Joker has in store for this bat-bonanza. Despite this being a new 52, we’re all rolling with the fact that at some point in the last 5-12 years Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker and spent time paralyzed. The whys and hows have changed (I think), but the terror of the event still haunts Barbara and the rest of the bat-family.

Speaking of family, it seems the Joker has finally found the Bats’ Achilles heel after all these years and it has nothing to do with Bats himself. While putting the lives of those close to superheroes in danger is a staple as old as comics itself (honestly how many silver age swords of Damocles swung over Robin and Lois Lane over the years), “Death of a Family” is making it personal by not only going after friends of the Bat, but their civilian loved ones as well. This twist of strategy for the most twisted villain in comics is what sets Barbara out into the streets of Gotham this issue in search of her dear old ma. There’s another player here in cahoots with the Joker, a man close to the Gordon clan who played a pivotal role in Snyder’s Pre-52 DETECTIVE story. This issue was gruesome and emotionally brutal thanks to Barbara’s internal dialog, but the little twist of Joker’s new little friend took the expected and made it extraordinary.

Ed Benes tore things up this issue, keeping the emotion high and the action even higher. I also think he found a way to make Joker’s strap-on visage even creepier than Capullo’s rendition.

It’s hard to quantify what makes Simone such a breath of fresh air for me, and I fear my reasoning might sound misogynistic, but alas here it goes. She has the ability to write strong female characters with the true voice of womanhood. It’s a voice where relationship is just as important as plot, where each action scene is carefully balanced with nods to how these events make the character feel. In short, women are far more concerned with the why of life over the simple what. And there is simply no better showcase of this talent than when a character is faced with their greatest fear as Barbara was this issue.

By my count I’ve crafted well over 300 comic reviews over the years, now I would like your help. Tell me the essential Simone’s in your opinion and why. I want more and I want the best to help keep my comic budget somewhat constrained. Help me TalkBackers and commenters, you’re my only hope.