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Comics Picks For 12.02.2014

A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.

And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Batgirl #28 (Comics Review)

Spinning out of the Wanted arc and then the Gothtopia tie-in last month, the new issue of Batgirl goes in a surprisingly different place as Gail Simone explores the thematic links between Gotham’s Bat-family and vampires of urban myths. As I keep saying, Gail Simone has made this title one of DC’s relative heavyweights since the New 52 relaunch, and its definitely one of my highest anticipated titles of each month. The Wanted arc was pretty damn excellent, and now it looks like we might be getting some smaller stories again, like the Ventriloquist 2-issue arc that we had before Wanted.

Barbara has been through a ton of things recently, and she is still picking up the pieces of her life. Its not easy, especially not when a madman comes into town, seemingly intent on some kind of righteous vengeance, a complete and total loon as it were. But she does gain an ally, someone who hasn’t been around in the series for a while and her return is quite fun indeed since I love her as a character and Gail injects a lot of humour in her scenes. To top it all off, Fernando Pasarin and Jonathan Glapion’s art is excellent as ever, another plus.

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Best of 2013 Part 2c: Monthly Comics

A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.

So, with the novels and graphic novels already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthlies of the year. This is the final “best of” list I’m doing for 2013 that involves reading.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Batgirl: Redemption (Graphic Novel Review)

I’m a huge fan of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl (and for a long time, the Oracle). She’s been a favourite for a good long while and when I started reading the comics written by Gail Simone last year, I found myself a new outlet to appreciate the character even more. Far more. Those comics are a mainstay of my DC reading right now, and the series is one of my top titles each month (at least, whenever Gail Simone is the writer). A few days ago I decided to read some different Batgirl comics, since during Barbara’s tenure as the Oracle, other characters have taken on that mantle, most notably Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, both of whom are absent in the New 52.

The first of the comics featuring these characters I read was Batgirl: Redemption, which marked the second run of the title and was only for three issues, tangentially leading into the entire Death of Batman arc. Featuring Cassandra Cain, written by Andrew Beechen and drawn by excellent artists like Jim Calafiore and Jonathan Glapion, this wasn’t the best introductory comics to read, but I liked it well enough. There are lots of things going on in here and I was lost a few times, but I still enjoyed the characters thoroughly.

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Advent Review #13: Batgirl #26 (Comics Review)

We are finally here, the end of the Wanted arc for Batgirl which put Barbara through some of her most trying moments in life. Having killed her monster of a brother, then gone up against the psychopathic Ventriloquist and then on the run from the Gotham Police for her brother’s murder, Barbara has gone through the lowest of low moments, emotionally speaking. The interruption of the Zero Year issue last month by Marguerite Bennett was extremely frustrating since otherwise #25 would have ended this fantastic story arc, something I’d really been looking forward to. But no matter, it came out this week and it left me completely amazed.

I’m really sad that this arc is over. It was a short arc, as such things go, but by god, Gail Simone did some of her best writing in this arc, especially where Barbara herself as a character is concerned, let alone her father Commissioner Gordon. There are a lot of things that made this issue amazing, such as the art by Daniel Sampere, Steve Wands, Blond and Jonathan Glapion, or the mind-blowing cover by Alex Garner. Everything was pretty much pitch-perfect here.

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Batgirl #24 by Gail Simone (Comics Review)

There are some comics out there that are all action and little plot/characterisation. There are some comics that are the reverse as well, heavy on the plot/characterisation and little action. In that regard, there are few comics that manage to balance the two, and balance them well at that. This is where Gail Simone’s current run on Batgirl comes in because it is one of those few ongoing series that maintains that balance.

When last we were with Barbara Gordon, she had just suffered one of the lowest points of her life and things looked really dire for her as the Wanted arc kicked off to fanfare and horribly moving moments. As with Scott Snyder’s Batman, Gail’s Batgirl is one of the very few DC books that manages to be helluva consistent issue to issue, and Batgirl #24 is the latest in that stellar consistency.

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The A-to-Z Comics Survey

Last week I posted a book survey, in response to a similar post by a blogger friend. I had a lot of fun writing that post and I immediately wanted to do a comics version of the same. In addition, I’ve talked two other friends, fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings and blogger Stefan at Civilian Reader, into contributing to this survey.

My post goes up today. Bane’s post will go up tomorrow (For those interested, you can check out Bane’s own A-to-Z Book Survey on his blog). And Stefan’s post will follow the day after. Do keep an eye on them!

Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments! And remember, all my comics reviews can be found here.

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Batgirl #23 by Gail Simone (Comics Review)

So, I just finished reading the new issue of Batgirl by Gail Simone. For the fourth time. I’ve never done that before, ever. There hasn’t been a comic yet that has gotten to me like this one has. Through all the ups and down this title has seen since launch, I’ve stuck with it. Well, technically, I only started reading sometime in August last year, or thereabouts, so I haven’t been reading long, but I’ve stuck with each issue. Gail Simone is one of my favourite writers in the industry right now and a big reason for that is this book.

As someone who was never interested in the character before, much like with Aquaman, Gail got me invested in the character. She got me to vividly experience all the ups and down that Barbara Gordon, formerly Oracle and wheelchair-bound, experienced in the New 52. And with this issue, she’s hit everything home in the worst way possible. And I mean that in a good way.

Note: spoilers for the previous story arcs now follow, so best be aware of that.

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