Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Comic Shop Comics: December 23
This issue is the first part of a new story arc entitled "Allies," and, in it, we return to the homefront to see how things are going in Gotham City during Batwoman's absence. As was telegraphed in an earlier chapter, Harper Row has indeed become Batgirl, along with her friends from the garage she works at. In fact, there are a whole bunch of girls–and a couple of boys–who pick up bats and don masks to become Batgirls and Batboys. By the last panel, artist Mirka Andolfo's allusion to a pretty famous photograph, there are eight kids in the Gotham-based, baseball-themed vigilante gang. These include Batgirls Harper Row, Bette Kane and (most surprisingly) Alysia Yeoh, plus three other Batgirls whose civilian names I didn't recognize at all (If any of you do, however, do tell; I was kinda surprised they had that many Batgirls and didn't name any Cassandra, Stephanie or Barbara). As for Batboys, we've got Cullen Row and Tim Drake.
A side-story that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the overarching Bombshells plot, but simply to expand the setting to include more characters, "Allies" focuses on characters standing up against a crooked landlord to defend immigrants/refugees, busting a corrupt orphanage and, because this is a superhero comic still, fighting a giant robot.
It's interesting because of how tangental it is to the series, I suppose, and because, purposefully or not, it meta-references a once-popular, Golden Age sub-genre that's long since disappeared: The big city kids gang comics. I suppose it's also interesting that Bennett has made Alysia into a superhero character in this reality, whereas she was originally just a supporting character with a somewhat clumsy, inclusion-focused introduction in Batgirl.
It's...well, it's Saga. It's rock-solid consistent. You either love it as you've always loved it, or you're not reading it.
This issue is fairly Joe-focused in terms of scale, with only Megatron and Perceptor appearing for much panel-time, at least before the last few pages, where the Joes learn of Transformers creation myths. As is always the case, this issue is full of so many awesome things, it's hard to settle on the most awesome. I really liked the simple, throwaway panel in which Tunnel Rat drops a machine gun into the kitchen where Roadblock has been working, and Scioli draws the belt of bullets that feeds into it in this beautiful, whirlpool-ing curlicue.
I'm torn on my favorite part; either the fact that The Dreadnoks have to sit at the kiddy table during a Cobra banquet feating the destruction of the Earth (according to everyone in this comic, the Earth ended and the only human beings left alive are those on Cybertron) or the three-panel battle between Snake Eyes and Stormshadow, which is fantastic.
I sorely missed the creator commentary by Scioli and Barber that generally follows each issue, but in its place was something equally cool: A prose story by the pair featuring Shockwave's attempts to resurrect his dead brother Soundwave, and Snake Eyes' taming of Ravage as a steed, upon which he travels to the Transformers underworld. I never thought I would have any interest in Transformers-related prose fiction, but I'll be damned if this wasn't as well-written as anything else in this series, with some nice turns of phrase, a few really funny bits and the same sorts of inspired, unexpected but ultimately logical connection-drawing that the pair have engaged in, like linking Megatron to the angel Metatron.
Oh, and this story notes the origin of the slur "Gobots," which is what the Joes have been calling the Transformers. I mean, you and I know where it comes from, but, according to Snake Eyes, it comes from a movie in his fictional universe, Gobots Vs. M.A.S.K.. Does IDW own the rights to those two franchises? Because something tells me that, if they do, we'll be seeing excerpts of that film appearing in the pages of this comic at some point.