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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Women Like Part 5

Welcome back, folks, for the latest part of "What Women Like (to Read)!"

I said "bat-website" yesterday, didn't I? Well then, what better place to start than with a bat? And as we were just speaking of things that are old-that-is-new, we'll begin with the newly returned and revamped Batwoman!

Kathy Kane was originally introduced as the Batwoman in the 1950s in response to the Comics Code Authority. She was wiped out of existence during Crisis, and no Batwoman had been seen since...until Kate Kane picked up the cowl in 52, and made the character -- at least in my opinion -- infinitely cooler and more interesting than she had ever been before. Far more than being a flaky love interest for Bruce/Bats, this Batwoman stands entirely on her own two feet, and has no interest in playing in Batman's sandbox. She'll stay out of his way, so long as he does the same. And she plays her mission well: her first outing pitted her against the Religion of Crime, and led to some interesting questions regarding her personal history, too. Like any good Bat, Kate has her demons to face, but not every Bat gets to face them with such lovely artwork. Batwoman is a book that is presented in two different style at one time -- basically, one for Kate in her civilian life, and one for her tights -- and the dichotomy meshes beautifully.

(Plus, if you're a fan of The Question, and you've been, well, questioning whether or not Renee Montoya is going to be around after the relaunch, there's no better place to wait for her than here. So far there's been just a photograph/cameo, but as Kate's "one that got away," Renee is sure to show up eventually.)

You can grab the first Batwoman trade, the Elegy collection from back when she was headlining Detective Comics, or you can jump right in to the new series that launched when DC restarted their universe*. Either way, you're in for some lovely, fascinating, twisty-turning storytelling full of sharp action and delightful creepiness.

(*Said restart, incidentally, also brought back a brand new Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Batgirl -- featuring Barbara Gordon back in the cape! -- and a really fascinating new take on Wonder Woman that you don't want to miss, if you're looking for some other good DC heroines.)

Speaking of things that are delightfully creepy, have you heard about Rachel Rising? This is the new series by Terry Moore, of Strangers in Paradise fame. He finished up his first science fiction comic, Echo (which is available in an excellent complete collection, incidentally -- I highly recommend it!), and is now trying his hand at horror. I have to say, the book may have just begun, but so far he's succeeding brilliantly!

The story starts out with Rachel crawling out of her own grave, a shallow hole in the middle of the woods, with no idea of who put her there -- or even awareness that she's dead! It just moves on from there, dabbling with possession and murder and reanimating corpses, all rounded out by one of Moore's usual fascinating, eccentric casts. I may not be entirely sure who everyone is yet, or how they're all going to tie together, but there's not a one of them that doesn't already fascinate me. (And, of course, if you're not already a fan of Moore's beautiful lines, you are missing some beautiful artwork. Beautiful, and hilarious! Nobody draws people -- especially women -- the way Moore does, or with more entertaining facial expressions.) At this point, there's no way to tell where this story is going to go, but I think I can be confident in assuring you that whatever twists it takes, you're going to enjoy following along!

Another beautiful book that deals with the dead and the undead is Hotwire. This is brand new, old-school SciFi action, with a heavy dose of creepy thrown in. Hotwire was an idea originally conceived by Warren Ellis and artist Steve Pugh back in 1992, but the company that had commissioned the project folded and the story got shelved. The idea was too catchy for Pugh to ever abandon though, and Radical recently provided him with the chance to finally bring it to light -- and what a light it is! Blue-light, in fact; that's what the people of this future world call the creatures infesting their city. They're actually ghosts, or something very much like that; the story goes that, "fifty years ago, the dead stopped departing, and the blue-light ghosts began drifting into cities all over the world." It's Alice's job to catch these ethereal creatures before they can become menaces and convince them to Rest In Peace...whether they want to or not! And she's very good at her job.

Almost as good as Pugh himself, who's doing all the writing and art chores himself, and what a fantastic job he's doing! (Although don't worry True Believers, you can see the, shall we say, "ghost" of Ellis shining through.) Every page is exquisitely painted, with the world and its inhabitants both rendered in elegant detail. This book is beautiful enough to make me run out of superlatives, so let's just leave it at this: pretty art, sci-fi ghosts, great story. Go read it...or Alice will come kick your butt. The collection of the first volume is out now, and the second story coming soon, so now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in this world of blue-light ghosts and ghouls.

Now let's say we want something a little bit less creepy, with fewer re-animated corpses and brutal murders, though. Something, perhaps, for the kids to read.

Well, get ready to set sail into one of the best comics you'll ever find, because Ted Naifeh, creator of creepy, cutesy Courtney Crumrin, has a new heroine: Peg Pringle or, as she soon comes to be known, Polly the Queen of the Pirates! Because it turns out that proper, demure little Peg isn't just another inhabitant of Miss Lovejoy's boarding school, oh no; she is the daughter of the late, great Pirate Queen, and now it's up to Polly to take up her mother's mantle, find the treasure, teach some manners to the crew, and outwit the bad guys -- all before curfew. Polly and the Pirates is one of the most adorably illustrated, entertaining stories I've read in ages, and I recommend it not just to kids, but to anyone who likes a rollicking adventure story with a side helping of petticoats and proper manners--because not all little girls grow up to be princesses. Some of them luck out, and grow up to be pirates, instead!

And, even more exciting news: the long-awaited Volume Two of Polly's adventures will be out soon! Don't miss it...or any of these other great reads! And remember, if we're ever sold out of anything you want, your friendly neighborhood Counter Monkey will always be happy to order it for you. Enjoy your reading!

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At 1/14/2012 9:01 AM, Blogger Bill at Comix Connection said...

GREAT POSTS, Nicky! And I really think HOTWIRE is a truly criminally-overlooked book! The art is just incredible and no one reads it.

At 1/14/2012 6:05 PM, Blogger hkphan said...

Terrific job here, Nicky. Really glad I checked out Power Girl on your recommendation-love it. Rachel Rising sounds right up my alley so I'm definitely going to pick it up. Bill, I agree w/ your assessment of "Hotwire" as well. Great storytelling and fantastic artwork. Thank you both!


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