DC seems to be having itself a month, doesn't it? And not necessarily in the good way, either. Simone moves off Wonder Woman (though to reboot Birds of Prey, which many will think a worthwhile exchange -- having never read the latter, I can't say); Palmiotti, Gray and Conner leave Power Girl in June, and now this.

Greg Rucka Finished At DC, Off Batwoman [Wondercon]
Apr 2nd 2010
By: David Brothers (comicsalliance.com)

During his spotlight panel at Wondercon, moderated by our own Laura Hudson, Greg Rucka dropped a bombshell. He has been out of exclusive with DC Comics for three years, despite spending those three years working exclusively with DC, and his time with them is over. He just turned in the last of his DC work for the foreseeable future, and his time with Kate Kane is done. He reiterated his love for the character, saying that walking away from her was an incredibly hard decision to make, but one that was necessary....

The Complete Greg Rucka Wondercon Panel Transcript [Wondercon]
Apr 5th 2010
By: Laura Hudson (comicsalliance.com)

[...]LH: I solicited questions from Twitter, and they overwhelmingly asked the same question: What's happening with "Batwoman"?

GR: I don't know. I finished my last of my DC work yesterday, and I'm not currently doing anything for DC right now. I love the character; I would love to continue working with the character, but at the same time I'm sort of needing to step back from my DC work in general. I suspect that we'll come back to her at some point. I don't know if that's going to be something that Jim and I do together. I am not sure what Jim's plans are. I want to keep working with him, and I believe that's mutual. There is more to tell. There's a whole five-part story broken down that is really the last of -- "Elegy" was supposed to be four issues; there were supposed to be three issues that were "Go," and then there was a five-part story that Jim and I had, but because of a variety of things in-house at DC, we were moved out of "Detecitve [Comics]" and we couldn't tell the story there. So there's a concluding story that's basically Alice's origin story. It's what happened to Elizabeth. I don't know if we'll ever get to do it. I have been around in this industry long enough to never say never....

Nothing More, Nothing Less (gregrucka.com)
April 3rd, 2010

[...] So, if you’re a fan of my work in the field of comics, you’ve most likely heard the news that I’m no longer doing work for DC. I’m told that speculation is flying fast and furious as to why this is, and apparently, even despite my on-the-record comments, it continues.

There is no drama here, folks. It is as it appears. I’m stepping away from DC to pursue different opportunities. Nothing more nefarious than that. Nothing less sinister. Time is a commodity that is as precious to me as it is rare, and there’s simply not enough of it....

According to a tag at the end of a piece at blog@Newsarama, DC says that while they'd like Rucka to continue to write the character, they're not planning to shelve the series that they had talked about. (Though, once again, it's worth noting that the series -- or miniseries; that was never clear either -- hadn't had a release date even before Rucka decided to concentrate on his other work.)

Assuming that DC is being up-front and truly is planning to go ahead with the character, it's going to be interesting to see what happens now. If I understand the structure of how things were to happen, Batwoman was supposed to move out of Detective ... well, now, actually, with the last issue of "The Cutter", which shipped last week. We were supposed to start a new ongoing/miniseries that would be the origin story of Alice/Beth -- what happened after she was kidnapped. Renee Montoya as the Question was supposed to take over Detective for a few issues to close out the human trafficking arc that she's investigating; it wasn't clear from what I'd seen whether Batwoman would become a B-feature for the length of that run, but it sounded more like she would simply not appear at all. I'm guessing those issues have been written and possibly illustrated at this point, since otherwise it would leave Detective stranded without any content for possibly several months to come.

My guess -- and, of course, it's only a guess -- is that assuming what I understand of the schedule to be accurate, instead of moving Batwoman to her own title and picking up on the origin of Beth, they may leave Kate/Batwoman where she is, and find a new writer to pick up on the rather startling last page of the last issue of Detective. For that matter, without getting into Alice/Beth's origin, they can get into what the Religion of Crime will think when they discover that Kate's made the acquaintance of a Lazarus pool; I should think that would get certain knickers in a complete twist.

I do wonder who they'll get to write her. Rucka mentioned in the above-linked transcript that he'd wanted to create a character that anyone could write, that it wouldn't be so strongly linked to a single creator. To a certain extent, at least, he's succeeded; Morrison put her in Batman and Robin and it didn't feel as though she were a completely different character or anything like that. (Mind, there was the timeline and story-related question of just what the hell she was doing there in the first place, but that's somewhat beside the point.) That said, I can't imagine that Morrison would pick up yet one more thing; he's got Batman and Robin, plus he's essentially controlling the direction of the entire Bat section of the DCU. (Yes, I realize that there's an editor for that. Nonetheless, Batman and Robin is the lynchpin of just about everything Gotham-related except the forthcoming Birds of Prey -- which, oddly enough, will include the recently-resurrected Hawk and Dove, as well as Oracle (between this and Batgirl, she's going to be insanely busy) and which is tied to Brightest Day. (Speculation about Brightest Day being tied to The Return of Bruce Wayne aside.) Andreyko would do a good job with it, I think, although Batwoman is actually a darker title than Manhunter -- which, considering as Manhunter features one of the only two DCU heroes who will kill if she feels it necessary, is saying quite something. (The other one being, of course, Wonder Woman. I wonder if it says anything at all that the two heroes of the DCU who will kill are both women. Also, now that Manhunter is in Gotham, I'll bet that they're very careful not to have her go up against the Joker -- she wouldn't hesitate to put him down like a rabid dog. But I digress.)

I've seen a few people here and there baying "homophobia! DC is getting rid of the lesbians!" However, it's worth noting that, at least somewhat, whatever DC does with the characters is driven by the fact that they lost their writer. THAT said, DC seems oddly unprepared to replace him, or at least to announce who they're replacing him with.

In any event, it's going to be interesting to see what happens with Batwoman from here. If anything, of course.
GLAAD has announced the winners of 24 of its 32 categories of awards, with the last eight awaiting the Los Angeles ceremony. And the winners are:

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) - 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - New York:

Awards Presented on Stage
Outstanding Drama Series: Brothers and Sisters (ABC)
Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series: Prayers for Bobby (Lifetime)
Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: "Why Will Won't Pledge Allegiance", American Morning (CNN)
Outstanding Digital Journalism Article - Two-Way Tie:
- "'We Love You, This Won't Change a Thing'" by John Buccigross (ESPN.com)
- "Why Can't You Just Butch Up? Gay Men, Effeminacy, and Our War with Ourselves" by Brent Hartinger (AfterElton.com)

Hartinger's article is a fascinating exploration of the love/hate relationship gay men have with visible effeminacy. Buccigross' story is very touching, and also a little heartbreaking; Brendan Burke died in a car accident about a month or so after the story was published.

Other English-Language Awards Announced in New York

* Outstanding Film-Limited Release: Little Ashes (Regent Releasing)
* Outstanding Individual Episode: "Pawnee Zoo" Parks and Recreation (NBC)
* Outstanding Daily Drama: One Life to Live (ABC)
* Outstanding Talk Show Episode: "Ellen DeGeneres and Her Wife, Portia de Rossi" The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
* Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: "Uganda Be Kidding Me" (series) The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)
* Outstanding Newspaper Article: "Kept From a Dying Partner's Bedside" by Tara Parker-Pope (The New York Times)
* Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Rich (The New York Times)
* Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: The New York Times
* Outstanding Magazine Article: "Coming Out in Middle School" by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (The New York Times Magazine)
* Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate
* Outstanding Comic Book: Detective Comics by Greg Rucka (DC Comics)
* Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off–Broadway: A Boy and His Soul by Colman Domingo
* Outstanding New York Theater: Off–Off Broadway: She Like Girls by Chisa Hutchinson

Benoit Denizet-Lewis' story was fascinating, if vaguely inconceivable back in my day. And, in one of those moments of clanging irony, One Life to Live had its award announced a couple of days after the producers announced that the gay storyline for which it won was being phased out. Apparently, they thought that the storyline had harmed the ratings. (The fact that they also dragged out the wretched and annoying Mitch Laurence storyline from mothballs at exactly the same time somehow doesn't get blamed. Only the gay guys in what was clearly a subsidiary storyline. Yes. Quite.)

And you know what? I'm not even going to snark about that comics award. Yes, Detective Comics comes from one of their beloved four mainstream publishers (DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse). Yes, Greg Rucka is, you know, a straight guy. It's also a superhero comic starring two lesbian leads, with gripping storylines. And it's bloody flippin' gorgeous to look at. (It's a bit of a pity that this seems to be only a writers award; I think that artist JH Williams III has had as much to do with the series' success as Rucka, frankly.) Doesn't mean that I don't think there were other titles out there worthy of consideration; just that, even allowing for GLAAD's relentlessly narrow parameters for consideration, this is a pretty good choice.

Spanish-Language Awards Announced in New York

* Outstanding Novela: Más Sabe el Diablo (Telemundo)
* Outstanding Daytime Talk Show Episode: "Adopción gay: un tema muy controversial" Paparazzi TV Sensacional (MegaTV)
* Outstanding Talk Show Interview: "Realidades de ser gay en la tercera edad" El Show de Cristina (Univision)
* Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: TIE: "En el cuerpo equivocado" Primer Impacto (Univision) & "Damas gracias: Entrevista con Eva Leivas-Andino" Al Rojo Vivo (Telemundo)
* Outstanding Newspaper Article: "Mas familias de dos papás o dos mamas" by Pilar Marrero (La Opinión)
* Outstanding Magazine Article: "Del odio a la justicia" by Lena Hansen (People en Español)
* Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: "Saliendo del clóset: Cómo enfrentarlo en familia" by Fernanda Martínez (Univision.com)
Catching up on some older stuff, some of which got lost in the holiday rush.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 (Greg Rucka/Nicola Scott; DC)
...OK, look: I don't read the main Blackest Night title -- aside from one stray mention in "Red Robin", it hasn't quite made its presence felt in the Bat corner of the DCU in a way that makes it necessary to pay attention (though given that "Batman and Robin" is on hiatus to keep its story from getting ahead of Blackest Night and DC has announced a forthcoming miniseries called "The Return of Bruce Wayne", I assume that everyone's about to figure out that Bruce isn't dead). So to a certain extent, I expected "Blackest Night: Wonder Woman" to lose me here and there. The surprise about issue #1 was that it didn't; if you knew the general shape of the main series -- that Nekron is sort of raising and reanimating the dead of the DCU, killing really quite remarkable numbers of superheroes and then raising them as black lanters -- then you could follow BNWW #1 just fine. She fought undead Maxwell Lord to a standstill -- she thought -- and left him without weapons or fighters, but with him saying that she didn't know how bad things were about to get for her. So I expected issue 2 to somehow, kind of vaguely follow issue 1 in a comprehensible way, but since the main BN title had moved along, I wouldn't have been surprised to be a bit more lost. I did not, however, expect that hot mess.

Issue #2, I suspect, bears the same relationship to "Blackest Night" as the two Final Crisis issues of Batman had to that event series; something happens in the main series that doesn't make the slightest sense without those particular tie-in issues, but at the same time, you can more or less muddle through the main event without them. In this case, I'm guessing that Diana gets killed somehow in the main series, becomes a black lantern, but then miraculously becomes a star sapphire, without any explanation of how that happens. (From what I can tell, this happens in Blackest Night #6.) BNWW Issue 2 is that explanation. Unfortunately, the issue doesn't make any sense on its own. More impressively, it doesn't even make sense as a follow-up in its own miniseries; the action is so completely detached that it leaves you trying to figure out how it even could connect to what came before. (It doesn't. Don't even try.)

More seriously, the character is just painful to watch. She's rampaging all over, having a long drawn-out fight against Nera, killing Cassie and Donna, killing Hippolyta. We see at the same time not only the black lantern thoughts in the foreground, but Diana's own thoughts in the background, appalled at all that her body is doing, which is actually a rather nifty gimmick, although she's not all that articulate, so it does get a bit repetitive. (I would note, as well, that this is the second time in as many Crises that Diana's body has apparently been taken over by the bad guys and used against everyone. Superman and Batman get to save the universe -- or at least be dead during a crisis -- but apparently Wonder Woman's role is to be the weak link in the DC Trinity, involuntarily (if briefly) helping the bad guys. They might want to work on that.) And what brings her out of the black lantern killing rage? Not the love of her sisters. Not her love for her mother. Remembering that she loves Bruce, the dead guy, as he takes her into a deep swoony kiss. (Despite being dead, or at least profoundly absent, yes. Really, just don't ask.) This allows Aphrodite to activate the love in her, or some such, and turn her into a star sapphire lantern. Never mind that, canonically, she's had a boyfriend recently, and it wasn't Bruce. Never mind that there has not recently been even the slightest hint that they might have felt that way about each other. Never mind that you'd think that she'd love her sisters and her mother enough to snap her out of that killing rage -- over in her own series, she has defied and killed gods to save her mother and the Amazons, but somehow, that's not enough. It's love of the dead guy that does it for her. Oh, and then it all turns out to be a dream. No, really, a dream.

I get that as a tie-in, BNWW has to service the main miniseries, I really do. But honestly, that would have been a rocky issue on its own merits even without the "no, really, just a dream and now you're all fixed!" resolution. I really can't tell you how glad I am right now that Gail Simone's run on WW is structured in a way that lets her serenely ignore the various crises; I can for now just pretend Blackest Night doesn't exist. (One wonders how long the DC brain trust can let one of their flagship titles keep ignoring the rest of their universe. Blackest Night has raised the sales of almost every series it's touched, however briefly; you'd think they'd take a look at WW, and think, "Hey ... maybe ...")

BAD; Not recommended

Weekly World News #1 (Chris Ryall/Alan Robinson/Tom Smith; IDW)
In which the character of Bat Boy from the now defunct Weekly World News supermarket tabloid gets a role in a series. The main character, however, is Ed Anger, "right minded columnist for the Weekly World News". And by "right minded", they mean really really really really really right-wing columnist. He's pretty much anti-everyone, but especially those "illegal damned aliens". By which he means not only the more usual type, but also the extraterrestrials among us. He tried to warn us about them, in his columns in the WWN and also through interviews and rants on the WWN television network, but people still insist on being friendly to the aliens and taking them at face value. The humor in the issue comes from watching Ed utterly fail to cope with the various changes in the world around him ... although one of the gray aliens starts feeling uneasy himself, trying to tell Ed that there's something about to happen. Ed, being Ed, doesn't really listen. At the very end, there are also mockups of WWN pages, which may or may not show future stories in the book.

Robinson's art and Smith's coloring are perfect for the story; just a touch exaggerated and cartoony, but very expressive. The story is a lot of fun to read.

Excellent; Highly recommended.

Batman: The Widening Gyre #4 of 6 (Kevin Smith/Walter Flanagan/Art Thibert; DC)
In which Batman continues his romance with the returned Silver St. Cloud and continues meeting up with new crime fighter Baphomet on the odd rooftop. More of a marking time issue than anything else, setting up the chaos to come, although a few important events do happen. One of the old criminals, Crazy Quilt, comes out to play, and we get what is, I think, an actual in-continuity explanation for why Batman's foes have become so deadly, when they used to take care not to kill. We flash back to the first Nightwing/Batman team up -- with the Outsiders, for some reason -- and Dick is wearing that terrible 70s Nightwing costume, with the plunging neckline and the high collar, and gets teased about it by Metamorpho. Baphomet reveals his face, albeit not his identity precisely, to Batman -- he's not anybody we know offhand, at the moment, and he's rather older than expected -- and Silver, whom Bruce allows to wander the Batcave, discovers Batman's secret files, which he's been writing for the benefit of Alfred, allegedly. (Volume after volume after volume. For Alfred. Right.) She's impressed at his mad writing skillz and steals a volume to read later, and you know that's going to come back to bite somebody in the ass. She does feel oddly young and girlish and immature, compared to how she's been written in the earlier issues. And then at the end, Bruce has a confrontation with Selina, which I really didn't quite expect. I do think the characterization of both women may be the weakest points in this issue, but it also depends in part on where exactly the overall series is headed. As I understand the timing, we get another two issues, a six month break, another six issue miniseries, another break, and then Baphomet gets his own series.
Good; Recommended.

The Great Ten #1-3 (Tony Bedard/Scott McDaniel/Andy Owens/The Hories; DC)
I think I am, in many ways, absolutely the wrong audience for this title. Part of the issue is that I studied Far Eastern history and politics -- seriously, got the degree and everything -- and there are times when it's just really difficult to put that aside and remember that the DCU has nothing to do with the real universe in that way.

I got somewhat thrown out of the story immediately by what the premise seemed to be. Chinese gods were coming to answer the prayers of the Han Chinese people who have been oppressed by the Communist government and are protesting. Said government is trying to use the Great Ten, its superhero squad, to put down the protest, which drives the gods to act. And where is this protest? Outside a temple in Lhasa, Tibet. Given history and current politics, you'd think that if any gods would be responding, it would be Tibetan gods. So there's that, which I really did have a problem with in the first couple of issues. Given developments in issue 3, it looks as though what's actually going on may not be quite what it appears to be. Intertwined with that is the utter inability of the Chinese government to deal with modern media -- despite a very firm clampdown on all outgoing television, radio, internet connections, the rest of the world finds out about China's difficulties in really just a few minutes. While it may have been true that the Chinese government was that incompetent at one time -- vide Tienanmin Square -- the rather tight control of information in and out of Beijing during the Olympics would seem to indicate that they've figured that sort of thing out. But, again, fiction.

There are supposed to be ten issues, and it's clear at this point that they're going to show the origin of each member of the Great Ten, wrapped around the greater storyline of the group trying to battle the gods -- or not, as the case may be. Some of the group derive their powers from the gods and are, understandably, having a few conceptual difficulties. The tone of each issue varies wildly according to the origin of the character. Accomplished Perfect Physician, who gets his power forced upon him as a sort of penance for having accidentally (sort of) killed the man to whom it was supposed to go, and given that he is a physician, has a miserable time justifying the violence the government asks of him. Celestial Archer received his power from the gods after hiding in just the right tree from people who wanted to kill him; he's actually met the gods and walked among them, and has massive difficulties now that he's asked to fight against them. Thundermind (Thundermind?), who is a living Buddha, gained his powers through reading a page that induces a perfect moment of enlightenment, and gets the most unspeakably goofy storyline; he's a teacher, madly in love with a coworker who can never know his true identity (so, very early Superman/Lois Lane, and the deliberate parallels to Superman are pretty much thrown at you nonstop), and for some reason, the entire country is worried about the immodesty of his costume, which pretty much fully covers him. His story doesn't really match the seriousness of everyone else's origin story, and is really jarring against the broader battle against the gods story. The ending is not only goofy, but lunatic and an irritating delaying tactic; Thundermind apparently knows what's going on, but before he can tell his colleagues -- and, perforce, the reader -- has to zip back to protect his secret identity (in a way which should actually cause more suspicion; he has absolutely no business being there at that point in time, given what's happened everywhere else)

Honestly, I can't recommend this series. There are some interesting ideas here and there inside it, but they're being carried out in some very irritating, lazy and truly silly ways.

OK; Not recommended.

Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender #1 (Onrie Kompan/Giovanni Timpano/Adriana de los Santos; Onrie Kompan Productions)

Yi Soon Shin tells the historical tale of a long-ago war between Japan and Korea. According to the frontmatter in the book, the Korean army had thought, until that point, that their navy was mostly unnecessary, and there was a great deal of political infighting, trying to get the navy under the control of the army to disband it. General Yi Soon Shin fought against this. In 1592, Japan attacked Korea, hoping to take it and use it as a way to invade China. The other Korean generals burned their ships and retreated to try to defend on dry land, which was what the Japanese generals had thought would happen, and their infantry was far superior to the Korean. The Korean king fled, and his own people were so furious that they looted and burned his palace.

Issue 1 tells the story of how Yi Soon Shin, the disregarded general, figured out the tactics that made it possible for his vastly outnumbered force to fight the Japanese at sea. We start out in Japan in 1591, where their generals are planning their war of conquest. We then jump to invaded Korea in 1592, where the Japanese army are committing various atrocities on the town they've captured. They then discover that the remnants of the Korean navy have surrounded that harbor, but aren't afraid, because they have the Koreans so seriously outnumbered. The Japanese then discover that they are up against a superior tactician -- and, oddly, superior armament. It seems that the Japanese didn't arm their ships with cannon, and Yi Soon Shin did, so the tiny Korean navy shreds the much larger Japanese navy.

Yi then has to deal with the aftereffects of battle. He's got internal problems, because another admiral feels that he should have been in charge. He then takes his men onshore, to try to find the remnants of the Japanese force and deal with what's left of the village that the Japanese attacked. And then at the end, he discovers something truly horrific.

The storytelling in this opening issue works very well. Even though they don't go into a lot of background on him at this point, you get a feeling for who Yi was, that he was brilliant militarily, and a man who could get his men to follow him. That said, the one storytelling weakness I would identify is that there's too much in the written frontmatter; we should have seen at least some of those things that he went through to get where he was. Given that it seems to be a self-published comic, I'm guessing that cost issues were a factor in simply telling us all that; that said, it does make for a relentlessly exciting first issue. Timpano's artwork and De Los Santos' colors are bloody gorgeous, as well -- quite often, literally bloody gorgeous, as this is a war comic and, well, there's a lot of blood flowing here and there. The title sems to be on a three issues per year publication schedule, so it's not going to end until January 2011 or so, which is unfortunate only because I'd really like to see more and faster. (I'm kind of surprised that this is purely self-published and not coming out of a smaller press like Archaia; it seems like it would be right up their alley, somehow.)

Excellent; Highly recommended.
So. GLAAD announced its media awards nominations for 2009 today, including, of course, the nominations for outstanding comic book. Let's remind everyone of the requirements for nomination, shall we? Let's shall?

GLAAD Media Awards Categories
Comic Book
Given to a comic book published by the four mainstream publishers and their subsidiary labels: Dark Horse, DC, Image, and Marvel. At GLAAD's discretion, a comic book from another publisher may be nominated if the book achieves a level of visibility and impact similar to a mainstream publisher. The comic book may be nominated for an individual issue, a story arc or a recurring LGBT character. Receives Award: Award is given to the comic book. Writer, artist and/or editor may accept.

Insert teeth-grinding at GLAAD's stupid limitations here. And ... OK, we're done. Moving on.

Actually, allowing for GLAAD's corporatist bent and the actual purpose of the awards ... I don't hate these nominations. In fact, it's really a pretty good lot. (I know! I'd never have thought I'd say that either!)

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) - 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - English-Language Nominees: Outstanding Comic Book
Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Jane Espenson, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Z. Greenberg, Jim Krueger, Doug Petrie, Joss Whedon (Dark Horse Comics)
Detective Comics by Greg Rucka (DC Comics)
Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Secret Six by Gail Simone (DC Comics)
X-Factor by Peter David (Marvel Comics)

Given that particular group of nominees, I suspect it will come down to Detective vs X-Factor. And I can't say as I'd argue with that, either. (I think the Rucka/Williams run on Detective was perhaps the best thing I read in comics last year, period. It certainly was the most gorgeous.) Mind, that does have one caveat: I don't read Marvel, so I don't read X-Factor. That said, its nomination makes perfectly good sense; the reason it might beat out Detective is because Rob Liefeld, the creator of the characters, who hasn't written them in several years, had a very public hissyfit at the very notion that the character could be gay. If GLAAD can't resist the opportunity to thumb their nose at him while rewarding what seems to have been good writing ... well, I certainly couldn't blame them. (For what it's worth, Peter David and Rob Liefeld have an ... interesting back and forth in the comments thread in the latter article.) Detective is the only comic from any of the Big Four featuring two lesbian lead characters, Kate Kane's Batwoman in the main story and Renee Montoya's The Question in the backup. I only read Secret Six in trade, so I'm not sure what the storylines there were -- although reading Blackest Night: Suicide Squad, which involves the Secret Six, certainly lets one know that Scandal is still most definitely interested in the women -- and Madame Xanadu had one arc featuring a lesbian relationship (granted, involving the main character). And Buffy had Willow, whose relationship with Kennedy became more prominent this year; I don't remember if the whole "Buffy having a lesbian moment" thing was this year or last.

As for the other categories ... well, it's an interesting batch. I didn't see or even hear of a lot of the films that were nominated in the small film category. The television categories are pretty standard, on the whole, with not that much unexpected. I do hope "One Life to Live" wins the daytime drama award. (...Oh, hush already! It's fun! And the Oliver/Kyle/Kris storyline was actually surprisingly well handled -- by which I mean that the coming-out part was really well done, and the romance part was treated pretty much exactly like they treated the straight romances that were going on at the same time. Though I do think Kyle's candle thing was a little ... odd. And that's independent of Amelia's storyline, which was brief but weirdly awesome. But I digress.) The startling thing is that "RuPaul's Drag Race" actually made it for Outstanding Reality Program; a gay program on a gay network nominated for a GLAAD award! Imagine that! (...OK, I'll stop now. Maybe.) And I somehow thought that ABC Family's "Greek" was a drama, and not a comedy. (And look! "Beautiful People" from Logo! Another gay show from a gay network! Good heavens! ... OK, now I'll stop.) In any event, I don't expect that the rest of the category has much chance against "Glee", which seems to have all sorts of momentum these days.

The journalism nominations look very solid. I've actually read or seen most of the stuff nominated -- how on earth did that happen? -- and I can't really argue with much of it.

I do wish that the nominations page had more (or, well, any) links to the nominated items or websites, where possible. But that's a technical quibble.
Angel Annual #1: "Last Angel in Hell" (Brian Lynch/Stephen Moody/Leonard O'Grady; IDW)
In which we see the movie made from Angel season 6. (For the sake of sanity, the new arc that Willingham is writing can be thought of as Angel season 7.) The conceit is that it was written by someone who lived in Los Angeles when it was dragged to hell, who saw much of what happened, but who wasn't close enough to the center of events to really understand what was going on. Add to that the muck that Hollywood frequently makes of things. Add to that the fact that ... well, neither the script nor the actor playing the lead seem to be very good. In fact, they seem to be quite quite quite awful. Put that all together, and you get a comic book "adaptation" of a movie that is impressively, awesomely bad. Angel appears to be played by a man who has taken lessons from the Nicolas Cage school of acting (think "Moonstruck", "Raising Arizona" and "Knowing", all mixed together in the same performance). Spike is played by a woman with, so we are told in a previous issue, a rather bad English accent. Gunn is being played by a round white guy and can turn into a dragon when pressed (he prefers not to). Fred is played by a black woman as an impressively kickass character, wearing the high-tech prototype ILLYRIA suit. (No, the acronym doesn't make the slightest sense. It shoots lightning from her hands when needed.) Angel starts out as an LAPD detective, whose partner, Wesley, gets killed and ghostified (don't ask) during an operation that goes wrong because of vampires, in which Angel does not believe until forced. (Again, don't ask.) But he starts to recover from that shock, and he's going to marry Spike, but the wedding goes horribly horribly wrong, in a way that will seem astoundingly familiar to anyone who ever saw the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie. (Or read the BTVS "Origins" comic.) And that, for some reason, provides the final push to send Los Angeles to hell. Lorne, as it turns out, rules most of LA as a lieutenant of Satan himself, and ... well. You just have to read the thing to see how awesomely, terribly, deliberately bad it is, in the best tradition of unintentionally awful and tacky horror movies. It's overwritten in all the right ways. The art is actually much better than you'd think the script deserves.
Very good; highly recommended.

Detective #860: "Go: Four years ago" (Rucka/Williams III/Stewart; DC)
In which we see how Kate started her work as Batwoman, and how she sees it not as the sort of crusade that most of the Bats seem to, but as an extension of the same ethic that took her to the military. Her father discovers, rather easily, what she's doing, and is not at all amused, but when Kate makes him understand why she's doing it, he helps her with his connections, money and vision to make it happen. The three scenes with her father are, in fact, the heart of the story -- the first where she convinces him that she can do what she's trying to do, and he decides to help, the second where it all comes together and she gets her uniform ("Pop ... are those heels?"), and then the last scene, where we find out exactly what her father did when she was kidnapped, where they break each others' hearts. (In fact, as far as the colonel goes, his reasons for what he did provide the one somewhat false note in the entire story so far; his reasons for doing what he does simply don't match the character as we've seen him to date. He took away hope, however futile, for a false certainty. It will, of course, turn out that his daughter has, quite accidentally, given him exactly the same false certainty -- and we get confirmation of that on the last page.) Williams' art is, as usual, stunning; the first two thirds of the story look as though they're drawn by a completely different person, and the last third in that striking style he's used for the modern part of the story.

Rucka and Cully Hammer's "Pipeline" Question backup story hits a very interesting point, as Renee and Helena appear to have made a rather dramatic mistake in their attacks on the cartel that's been trafficking in people and drugs. (It does bring up the question of exactly how secret identities work, if it's that easy for something as low-rent as a regular criminal cartel to figure out who the Question is and where she lives -- getting Helena at the same time was simply the lagniappe.)

Excellent; Highly recommended

(NB: As has been seen elsewhere, this is the last of the Rucka/Williams "Batwoman" stories in Detective. Rucka and Jock will be writing and illustrating Batwoman in Detective 861-863, and that story will appear to be unconnected to what's come before. In the new Batwoman title to start in 2010, after a new issue 1, they'll pick up with the final five issues of the "Elegy" arc, which was planned to break around "Go" originally. The Question co-feature will continue, and was in fact scheduled to become the primary story for a few issues after "Elegy"; whether that will happen earlier is unclear. It's also unclear whether Batwoman will be an ongoing title, or whether that will be only a 6-issue miniseries.)

Wonder Woman #39, "Warkiller, finale: Dawn before Darkness" (Simone/Lopresti/Ryan/Anderson; DC)
In which the threads started in "Bad Blood", "Rise of the Olympian", "Genocide" (somewhat) and "Warkiller", as well as the odd issues between those major arcs, are finally pulled together and concluded. Given that all of this has taken well over a year -- in fact, nearly two -- it would have to be one hell of a kickass issue to feel at all satisfying. And you know what? It kind of ... is. We finally understand, for example, what the hell happened to the Greek gods after the end of Amazons Attack and Countdown, when they seemed to have been rescued, but then disappeared for the entirety of Final Crisis; we find out where they were and why they weren't around to keep Olympus from being desecrated by the New Gods. We see gods abused, gods who were killed and resurrected, gods who weren't really dead. We find out what's behind all the strange pregnancies of the Amazons. We find out the truth of Diana's engendering. We get to see Diana, Hippolyta and even Achilles kick quite a lot of ass. Lessons are learned by the most unexpected people. Donna gets her sanity back. A lot happens, and it pretty much all works. Everything isn't completely wrapped up, of course, but that's to be expected. It really is a very satisfying ending for such a very long story arc.

Something of a side note: I would really love to know how Simone managed to get DC to allow her to run for such a long time without paying even the teensiest amount of attention to the ongoing crises of various sorts in what is supposed to be one of their major titles. None of this arc would have happened without Countdown, of course, but there have been two major events in the DCU since then, and this title hasn't taken any notice of either of them.

A side note to the side note: I wonder if we're going to find out what happens to the resurrected Olympians. As things are left, there doesn't seem to be a plan to send them back to Hades. And given what Simone has said about him, I'd love to see a miniseries with Achilles, just to see what he would do in today's world.

Very Good; Strongly recommended.
Yeah, been a while, hasn't it? So let's see if we can manage a few short(ish) faster-paced reviews, just to get my hand back in, shall we? Let's shall.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #1 (Chris Roberson/Shawn McManus; DC/Vertigo)
The latest in the Fables series spinoffs, we follow Cinderella, Fabletown's spy extraordinaire, as she sets off on her latest mission: to determine who's been sneaking magical artifacts from the fallen Homelands, post Fables war, into the mundy world and to stop them. She asks Frau Totenkinder for some help, for a price that's left unspecified for now but is certain to be fairly high. We also see that Cinderella runs a shoe shop in Fabletown, with her assistant -- who feels much more put-upon than he actually is -- trying to run a functioning business in the frequent absence of his leader. It becomes clear almost immediately that putting an even mildly ambitious person in that sort of position is the sort of thing that Will Not Go Well -- although, again, that's only set up in this issue, and we'll have to wait for the payoff. Overall, it was a lot of fun, consistent with the characterization of Cinderella as we've seen her in the main Fables series (I've said it before, but Prince Charming married three fairly awesome women). The only small glitch was figuring out when in the Fables timeline the story takes place, as it turns out to be very particular. It's after the Fabletown war, but before the arrival of Mister Dark, as the Underwood still exists at that point; I wonder if perhaps the series was maybe planned to come out about a year ago, and something delayed it. In any event, McManus' artwork maintains the overall look and tone of the Fables series while also being more or less its own thing.
Very Good; Recommended

Stumptown #1 (Greg Rucka/Matthew Southworth; Oni)
In which Rucka goes for the modern noir detective story. We start near the end, in which Dex is being shot by someone, and wind back to the beginning. Dex -- whose first name is apparently Dexedrine, which will tell you something about her background right there -- is a Native American detective living in Portland, Oregon, trying to care for her younger brother, whom everyone in the neighborhood seems to love. They're not so happy with her, however. Dex, it seems, has a major gambling problem. She runs up more than she can repay at the local casino, and gets roped in through those debts into trying to run down the daughter of the casino owner; said daughter has suddenly just dropped off the face of the earth. This being a detective story, we discover almost immediately that there are all sorts of things that Dex hasn't been told about what's going on. It seems to be getting set up to be a classic story of dames and double-crosses, only the detective in this case is a woman, which may or may not also truncate the classic "find the dame who then seduces the detective and then does him wrong" part of the story. (NOTE: I've seen some other reviews, and for reasons which utterly escape me, almost everyone is assuming that Dex is a lesbian. The only textual support for it seems to come from Dex commenting that the girl she's been asked to find could have run away with a man or a woman. It would not be unusual for Rucka to create a tough lesbian detective -- see also: Renee Montoya, Kate Kane's Batwoman -- but there doesn't seem to be a lot more there, at the moment.) Southworth's artwork is hard-edged, heavy-lined and dark, matching the mood of the story perfectly. For what it's worth, I'm glad that this is coming from Oni, which seems to aim for graphic novels and collections more than it does single issues. This story seems strongly like it will read better in collections -- though I assume those collections will lack the backmatter, like Southworth's explanation this issue of how he came up with the look and content of the art -- and may be a harder sell in individual issues.
Excellent; Highly recommended

Invincible Presents: Atom Eve and Rexplode #1 (Benito Cereno/Nate Bellegarde; Image)
In which we go into the past, before the Invincible War, and see how Rexplode and Atom Eve, a.k.a Samantha Wilkins, met. We start with Rexplode's story, which turns out to be very grim indeed. His family is grindingly poor, driving Rex to steal food. He's seen by a man who gets intrigued by his apparent talents, and who then follows him back to his home and makes a proposition to Rex' father ... who sells his son to someone he doesn't know, essentially for a few groceries. Rex is made to endure all sorts of body modifications, which allow him to explode things with sufficient kinetic energy. (He throws balls at his targets. A lot.) It becomes clear to the reader long before it dawns on Rex that perhaps, just perhaps, he's not working for the good guys that he thought he was. But before he can quite figure out what to do with this concept, he meets Atom Eve.

I really really wish that Kirkman would outsource every issue of the main Invincible title in which Atom Eve appears to Cereno so that she could get some more interesting characterization. She only appears on the last page of this first issue, but presents with a lot more attitude and is a much more interesting character, in a one page appearance, than Kirkman has ever managed. This was also true of the first Atom Eve miniseries that Cereno wrote. I get that in the main title, she's a supporting character, whereas Cereno gets to write her as the main character of his minseries, and so she actually has to be more interesting; she holds the center. I get all that, I really do. But Kirkman has only ever written Eve as an archetype of The Girl. You want her, but you can't have her. Miracle of miracles, you get her ... and then your enemy punches her guts out and kills her, motivating you to kill him (you think). But then, more miracles of miracles! she reassembles herself and she's back to life, and gave herself a boob job in the bargain! And yet ... somehow doesn't quite manage to be that interesting a character, despite everything.

Anyway, all that said, Cereno and Bellegarde do their usual excellent work in this miniseries, producing strong characterization and story and artwork. It's very enjoyable, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series.
Excellent; Highly recommended

Hector Plasm: Totentanz (Cereno/Bellegarde and others; Image)
Very different in feel from the first Hector Plasm, which told more straight-ahead stories. This one contains not only stories, but recipes, and songs (sort of). The quality does feel rather more variable than expected, but overall, it's still a very entertaining and interesting look at the character and his life and times. And also the occasional ghosts and skeletons and whatnot. One of the stories, "Hector contre la danse macabre", is meant to be read in conjunction with composer Camille Saint-Saens piece "Danse Macabre", with story beats coordinated to the music. Happily, Nate Bellegarde then put together this NOT SAFE FOR WORK piece (contains full frontal comics character nudity), synchronizing the visual and audio beats as intended.
Excellent; Highly recommended

World's Finest #1 of 4 (Sterling Gates/Julian Lopez, Bit; DC)
Adventure Comics 3/506 (Geoff Johns, Michael Shoemaker/Francis Manapul, Clayton Henry; DC)
Red Robin #5 (Christopher Yost/Ramon Bachs; DC)
I put these three titles together because the first two, between them, show how frustrating Red Robin itself is. All three involve Red Robin; in World's Finest, he teams up with Nightwing -- Chris Kent, not Dick Grayson, who's off being Batman -- to take down an operation by the Penguin, who has managed to kidnap Flamebird. (Side note: since I abandoned the Superman side of the DCU back when they were having a terrible time getting any of the Superman titles to ship, I had no idea that there had been "time storms" or some such, which propelled Chris Kent through about 15 years of physical development in only a few months. I also had no idea that he was Zod's son. It was fairly startling. But I digress.) In Adventure, Conner "Superboy" Kent, trying to get back in touch with his past, tracks down Tim and helps him out with a mess he's gotten into. And in Red Robin, Tam Fox winds up delegated to track Tim down, for no apparent reason -- seriously, Lucius would send his daughter after Tim, knowing the sorts of things he could be getting into? His daughter? Sorry, don't buy that. But anyway, there she is. And there Tim is, post mauling. (I will also just note that a biologically human vigilante without a spleen, doing the sorts of things he does, is taking one hell of a risk.) The thing is, World's Finest manages to advance the idea that Tim is still trying to find Bruce, searching for odd and obsure clues -- it feels like it takes place long after the current Red Robin arc has ended. And in Adventure, we see, for the first and only time so far, Tim articulate why he's chosen to be Red Robin, an identity for which he can only have the deepest loathing. Or, more precisely, we see Conner figure it out, and then he and Tim talk about it. We haven't gotten any of that in the main Red Robin title, and at this point, we should be.
World's Finest: Very good; Recommended.
Adventure Comics: Very Good; Recomended.
Red Robin: ... Meh.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #6 of 6 (Ivan Brandon/Cliff Richards, Prentis Rollins)
One of the more headscratching things to come out of Final Crisis. On the one hand, it was different and experimental in a way that DC seldom is. On the other ... by the time you get to the end, all you can think is, "All of this is for THAT result? Why didn't they just ASK him?" In any event, the title ends in a way that seems to set up the new (and dreadfully misnamed, no doubt) Global Peace Agency, with Nemesis as its chief. It seems to be a replacement for the now-destroyed Checkmate, with a broader brief, and fewer checks on its power. Its brief is to prevent the next Crisis; it will, of course, utterly and absolutely fail at that. It is, in fact, failing at that at this very moment, with Blackest Night zombies running around all over the place.

A moment from the High Horse, if you will: One of the terribly frustrating things about DC's various crises is the really odd lack of followthrough in some places. For example, at the end of the Crime Bible: The Books of Blood miniseries, Renee Montoya was accidentally head of the Religion of Crime. And then when Final Crisis came along, she just ... wasn't, anymore, and now in Detective, Alice has come out of nowhere to take charge. At the end of Final Crisis, Renee Montoya had been drafted by Checkmate to be head of the Global Peace Agency, gathering the task force of 51 Supermen who were to defeat Darkseid, only to arrive and discover that Earth-prime's Superman was back and handling things just fine, thanks. And now ... she's not. It does seem that there should be some exploration of what happened and the effects before you go blithely off to the next thing. I mean, it wouldn't take all that much to tell us how she got out of all these commitments, would it? But I digress.
Interesting; no recommendation

Power Girl #6 (Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray/Amanda Connor; DC)
Have I mentioned that I absolutely love this series? No? Well, I absolutely love this series. It manages to take on the sorts of Serious Things that a superhero story must do -- for certain values of serious, of course; New York getting levitated by a hyperintelligent ape's spaceship is only just so serious, after all. At the same time, it never loses its sense of humor and fun. Power Girl actually enjoys being a superhero. At the same time, she enjoys being Karen Starr, if not quite as much -- it's certainly the more aggravating side of her existence.

One of the things I've never understood about superhero comix is the secret identity thing. Take Power Girl, for example: six foot tall buxom blonde, never to be found in the vicinity of Karen Starr even when they logically ought to be. Just how hard can it be to make that connection? And in the last two issues, Palmiotti and Gray have actually played with that a little, having someone discover Power Girl's secret identity. She doesn't know who it is yet, though undoubtedly she will soon.
Excellent; Highly recommended.

Detective Comics #858 (Greg Rucka/JH Williams III, Cully Hammer)
In which we start seeing Batwoman's origin story, with perhaps a tiny bit of Alice's origin story and the modern story mixed in. We meet Kate and her sister Beth as children, and see their mostly happy home lives. Certainly, they're frustrated by their father's frequent absences, and also frustrated when they're made to move yet one more time, but still basically happy. That all comes to an end in London, where their family is attacked, presumably by the Religion of Crime, during the girls' birthday outing with their mother. She's killed, and it seems that Beth is killed as well. In the modern frame, Kate is analyzing some of Alice's blood to see if it's her sister or not, and ignoring her father's demands and pleas for her to talk to him. In the backup story, "Pipeline, chapter 1", Renee Montoya as the Question wraps up the first part of her investigation into a slavery ring, rescuing not only the girl she was after but several more. (One wonders what the rest of "Pipeline" is supposed to be, if chapter 1 ends like that.) I actually feel a bit sorry for Cully Hammer; he's been doing very good work on The Question backup story in Detective, but has been totally overshadowed by the amazing things that Williams is doing with Batwoman.
Excellent; Highly recommended

Wonder Woman #37 (Gail Simone/Bernard Chang)
You know ... I wonder if perhaps Simone is aiming at nothing other than an essential refounding of Wonder Woman's story with this arc. After all, Diana's last two origin stories don't really work any more; she's surely observed man's world quite enough (and the current setup of her story seems to assign that role to Hippolyta as a previous Wonder Woman, anyway), and she's no longer functioning as an ambassador. After "Amazons Attack", the Themiscyran embassy seems to be gone, and she's actually working for the US government. Which brings up the question ... what's she doing here, anyway? If the issue is that she's been expelled because she no longer thinks as her people believe she should, because she also worships unfamiliar gods, then that brings her story into alignment with the other two of DC's alleged Trinity: Batman and Superman both lost their parents to create themselves, as well, albeit at much younger ages, and Superman doesn't really remember losing his. In any event, this issue is sort of wildly unbalanced. I do wish the Donna Troy part of it would just end; having her made insane by Genocide, even though nobody else who contacted Genocide was, makes less than no sense. I'm curious about what's going on with the Amazons; parthenogenic pregnancies after all this time? And Achilles seems like an honorable man being forced to do progressively more dishonorable things; I suspect that he may wind up rebelling against Zeus and Ares sometime soon. (The Ares ghost thing was just ridiculous, really.)

All that said, the one major knock against the most recent story arcs is that, the two issue thing with Black Canary aside, this thing with Alkyone and Achilles and Zeus' big plan is taking FOREVER. I have the vague, nebulous impression that it's in part because Diana isn't really doing anything with Final Crisis or Blackest Night, so she needed some sort of epic storyline to match the guys. (Yes, she had an important role, of sorts, in Final Crisis, and yes, there's a Blackest Night: Wonder Woman on the way. However, neither of those events is going to be reflected back in the main title, whereas Final Crisis rebooted the entire Batman line, and has had some interesting aftereffects over in Superman's chunk; Blackest Night showed up in this week's Red Robin, and is actually going to effectively suspend publication on Batman and Robin for three months.)
Interesting; no recommendation.

Something of a side note: it's fascinating to see how the solo-female superhero titles from the DC universe are doing relative to each other. Surprising, one way and another. From the Top 300 Comics for October 2009 chart from ICV2, the rankings for October for those titles:

#19 Detective Comics (Batwoman and the Question)
#51 Batgirl
#68 Supergirl
#76 Power Girl
#77 Wonder Woman

That Batwoman and the Question have been able to sustain Detective at a very high sales level is very impressive. That Batgirl is doing so well, relatively speaking, is baffling. (Something to judge by: Stephanie Brown is now outselling "Superman: World of New Krypton", Superman and Action -- though that may all be an indication of the weakness of the Superman franchise at the moment, rather than the strength of Batgirl.) To be sure, there's only a few hundred issues between Power Girl and Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, it does seem to show that people just don't quite "get" Wonder Woman these days; she really ought to be doing better.
Detective 854/855 (Greg Rucka/JH Williams III/Dave Stewart):

...Good lord, this thing is gorgeous!

OK, OK, story first: We finally get the Batwoman series that we've long been promised, as she takes over 'Tec in the absence of Bruce Wayne. And right away, we see her in action in a way that shows us both the similarities and differences between Kathy Kane's Batwoman and the other members of the Bat family. She brings Rush to ground in an alley somewhere, and demands that he tell her what's going on with the religion of crime. He refuses, because he knows they'll kill him. At this point, most likely, Bruce (and possibly Dick) would have threatened him with even greater bodily harm if he didn't tell; Batwoman instead promises him that she'll protect him, and for some reason, he believes that she can. It's oddly comforting and seductive at the same time. There's also an interesting encounter with Batman -- version deliberately unspecified -- in which he grumps about her hair length and then takes off.

Next morning, Kathy goes to breakfast with putative girlfriend Anna, who promptly dumps her because she's consistently unavailable at night; the last straw was that Anna couldn't reach her last night, and Kathy looks like she hasn't slept -- as indeed she hasn't -- from which Anna draws entirely the wrong conclusion. Kathy then goes back to her place, where her father the Colonel is serving as her version of Alfred. We get a bare hint of what happened to her back when the Religion of Crime originally kidnapped her and tried to sacrifice her -- a shadow of an origin story, as it were. Kathy pulls together the clues to discover where the heads of the Religion's covens are meeting their new head. Said person, it turns out, is the loopiest criminal in town since perhaps the Joker, which is saying something. She presents herself as Alice, of Wonderland and Looking Glass fame, and every line out of her mouth is a somehow nonetheless entirely appropriate line from one of Carroll's books -- though not always one of Alice's lines, I think. 'Tec 854 ends with Batwoman meeting Alice, and 855 is a hard leadout from that, essentially an issue long fight sequence of sorts. During the fight, Kathy discovers the hard way that Alice hides razor blades in her mouth when she's cut with one that proves to be poisoned with some sort of hallucinogen. She goes staggering off into the nearby woods; meanwhile, back at BatLoft Central, the Colonel sees on his computer that follows her that his daughter's vital signs have suddenly taken a turn for the worse, so he grabs a few semiautomatic weapons and heads out after her. Somehow, he gets where she is more or less in time -- there's absolutely no sense of how long things are taking, since Kathy is hallucinating and herself has no sense of time. She's also remembering some of what happened during her earlier kidnapping. The Colonel arrives and starts shooting -- somehow managing not to kill anyone, possibly deliberately -- but it looks like Alice and her minions are about to get the upper hand when something unexpected happens at the story's end. Honestly, the story is a bit of a sine wave at this point; an outstanding first issue followed by an OK second issue that seems to be concerned with a lot of backstory and getting a few things in place.

The artwork on this story is, from beginning to end, truly spectacular. Williams does some really interesting things with frame composition and line length to visually separate Batwoman from Kathy Kane. Batwoman's part of the story only rarely has square frames of story, and even when she does, the borders and gutters are all black to the edges of the page. Much more frequently, her part of the story has a very different framing and flow, with a surprising number of two page spreads with unusual shapes and layout. Because the rest of her art is so dark -- night time, black costumes, dark places, etc. -- the line weight on her part of the drawing is much lighter weight. Dave Stewart is doing some incredible things with color throughout both sections, the more faded colors of the background with Batwoman -- making her reds and blacks pop out of the page -- and the vivid colors throughout for Kathy Kane's section.

Detective 854, Batwoman and Rush

By contrast, the Kathy Kane sections are lighter, airier -- despite a much heavier and distinct line weight -- and have a more traditionally structured page visually.

Unfortunately, after six issues (I think), we get a planned break in both art and story, shifting to a different artist for a couple of issues before Williams comes back to finish the "Elegy" story arc, and then a shift again to another artist.

Detective also has a backup 8-pager, featuring the new(ish) Question, Renee Montoya, Kathy Kane's former lover. Montoya investigates the disappearance of an illegal immigrant whose brother paid for her to come north to the US. She vanished before he ever saw her. When Victor asked the person he paid to bring her where she was, he got a serious beatdown for his trouble, along with a warning not to ask again, at which point he went to the Question's website and asked for help. Renee begins to look into things, and of course not only do things look bad right off the bat, but the investigation hits a few hitches almost immediately. Since this is a shorter chunk of story, it's actually faster paced, hitting plot points a bit faster. Honestly, it feels like a comics version of a Republic serial, except that it's monthly and not weekly. Even with a less satisfying amount of story, it's still gripping and involving, and Cully Hammer is doing some really good artwork on this. (Something of a side note, but I'd really love to know how Renee got out of being the head of the Religion of Crime. At the end of "The Crime Bible", she's just managed, despite her best efforts, to land the title, so she's the head of a group that doesn't take no for an answer. And yet, as we see in the main story, that mantle's been somehow passed to Alice, leaving Renee improbably still alive and kicking.)

Highly recommended.

Wonder Woman 34 (Simone/Lopresti)

In which we finally finally get past "Rise of the Olympian" ... sort of. And past Genocide ... mostly.

Diana starts out this issue in the arctic, communing with a mama polar bear and her cub on what she's been through -- the fight with Genocide that she thinks is done (if only she knew), having to renounce her people, her family, her home. She is, for Diana, a bit down in the dumps, understandably. (More about that later, I think.) She goes back home, only to be alerted by the gorilla tribe in her apartment (that will never fail to be entertainingly weird, somehow) that Nemesis is trying to get in touch with her -- yet more unfinished business, she thinks. And it is, except that it's Genocide; apparently she's still alive, sort of. It's somehow involved with underground metahuman extremely extreme fighting, about which Diana knows nothing, so she asks Black Canary to help. And they then go jaunting off in relative disguise -- using, as Dinah puts it, the "second most famous bosoms in the world after Power Girl" (and that Diana doesn't know this, despite having been enbustiered in man's world for nearly 20 years in the current revision, is just mindboggling) as auxiliary weapons. They get to the site, and their disguise gets them into the fights, which they win more or less handily, after faking some difficulties. And then, at the end, someone who wants revenge against Diana, for something she did not in fact do, appears. Meanwhile, back on Themiscyra, the Olympians' attempt to take over from the Amazons is not going terribly well, so clearly neither the Olympian story nor the Genocide story is going to be done any time soon.

The story, compared to the past few months, is comparatively light and functional. It sets a few things in play and reminds us that a few other things need to be dealt with, while still giving us a break from the fairly dark storyline of recent issues. And the relief is much appreciated. (Something of a side note, but I wonder what the current story behind Diana's costume is? During the "bosoms" segment, Dinah teases Diana about her patriotic star spangled briefs, and Diana says that's a misinterpretation, that people just assume that it was meant to do with the US flag. However, in the original concept of the character, it was meant to do with the US flag; her costume was meant to echo American symbols, because she was being sent here as ambassador. Given that she no longer has an eagle clutching the second most famous bosoms, things have clearly changed.)

Now ... let me just say that I'm not a continuity wonk. Not really. But that said ... I do keep wondering when, if ever, this title will acknowledge that Final Crisis even happened. After all, Wonder Woman was the first of the heroes to fall, after Mary Marvel; her mind was taken over by Darkseid and/or his minions, and her body was used against people to enforce his orders. I'm not saying that there should be a full issue of Diana weeping and wailing and railing against her fate, but it does seem like there should be something. A memory of something she did that she regrets. People she's trying to help pulling away or hiding because they remember what she did -- maybe she even did something directly to them. Other superheroes looking at her warily. Something.

As far as I can tell, the group of titles that really acknowledges that Final Crisis even happened are the Bat titles and, to some extent, JSA and JLA. Given that Bruce Wayne got removed from the field and the Marvel family were still suffering some of the aftereffects, they have no choice in the matter. And of course, there's the Final Crisis Aftermath set -- though, one might also note, the Escape title makes no sense so far as a Final Crisis related title, since almost nobody in it played any sort of major role. And, of course, in theory, that title should feed back into Wonder Woman at some point, unless maybe Escape is supposed to take place after they break up.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #27 (Jane Espensen/Georges Jeanty): In which we continue with the slayers being alienated from society due to the success of Harmony and her realiy program. We also see Oz, who's settled down, gotten even more zen, met up with someone, had a kid. And we see Twilight and friends unsuccesfully trying to locate Buffy and the slayerettes for further beatdowns. And that's ... really about it, actually. It's an issue that's designed to get people to places for the next issue. OK.


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