Bitch Planet #1: Now this is the book that everyone is going to be talking about in 2015. Bitch Planet is the common name for a high-tech space facility where non-compliant women are sent to learn the error of their ways. The minds behind this marvel of misogynistic technology are called the Council of Fathers, and in the first issue we get a look at some of the women incarcerated there.
Our nominal heroine is an older white woman named Marian Collins, in for making threats against her husband when he had an affair. We see her story and his told like gears working into each other, and it paints this dripping red picture of how society has relegated women to their place as servile to men.
Joining Marian are Penny Rolle, a massive, Amanda Waller-esque figure who instigates a riot almost immediately with the violent battle cry of, "Where'm I s'posed to put my tits?!", and Kamau Kogo, a quiet but brutal capoeira fighter who uses her skills to try and make a difference on Bitch Planet.
Every page is just filled to the brim with a blistering commentary on the state of the world and how women are viewed in it. As writer Kelly Sue Deconnick says in the back, "The striking thing about Bitch Planet is that we're already on it." Hopefully this series will show some women who think feminism isn't necessary anymore just how wrong they are.
Rating: 10 of 10
Robin Rises Alpha #1: It always felt cheap when they killed off Damian Wayne, who is simply put the best of the Robins ever. Snarky, rude and deadly he made the perfect foil for Batman. And then he was gone and no matter how much I cried when Bruce Wayne sought comfort in the gentle moos of Batcow there was absolutely zero chance Damian wasn't coming back.
On the other hand, you can certainly get a lot of mileage out of a storyline that has Batman boomtubing to Apokolips with a posse and punching out people to get his son's stolen body back. The result is a knockdown brawl with Darkseid's son over the insult paid his father by Batman's actions and the revelation that Damian has come back full of superpowers now.
Mostly the issue works as an exploration of the unique love the Bat Family feels for each other. Even Jason Todd finds himself loyal to his old mentor these days, though it hasn't curtailed his murderous tendencies any. As a crimefighting organization they really are one of a kind. Not that watching Damian hurl the giant penny at someone wasn't fun, too.
Rating: 6 of 10
Rumble #1: To be honest I picked up Rumble because if Image put out a book called Laundry List at this point I'd try it for a few pages. It's a story by James Arcudi and James Harren with art by Dave Stewart so that's not exactly a small pedigree.
The downside to a lot of these great creator-owned books coming out of Image is that they tend to take their sweet time with the hooks because they've built a fanbase willing to wait out a story. That's wonderful, of course, but it sometimes leaves you a little empty on single issues.
Rumble is about a magic sword that falls into a young man's life during a violent killing that may or may not have actually happened. This leads him to being pursued by strange demons who want the weapon back. The action is gory and Stewart is still the master of that visceral imagery that turns stomachs. The book is worth watching, but I might recommend waiting for issues #2 and #3 so you can take this is a bigger gulp.
Rating: 6 of 10
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S.H.I.E.L.D. #1: Bad nerd confession time: I have never watched a single episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Every single time I decide to do so a huge group of my fellow comic friends seem to get indescribably mad about it all at once and I put it off.
The new comic inspired by the TV show has Mark Waid behind it and that's good because he brings the same punch to Phil Coulson as he does to Daredevil. That's largely what the first issue explores.
The book recounts Coulson's first day on the job and it's masterfully done. Surrounded by metahumans and literal gods Coulson has one thing that the supers do not have. He's the one who sees how it can all fit together. I mean hurling lightning is a great skill if you need lightning hurled at something but you need more than a hammer to build a house.
The appeal of Coulson as a character is that he is the easiest for an audience to see themselves through. It's invigorating to watch someone vastly underpowered be able to hold his own and even succeed in a world that outmatches him. If there's a more necessary message for the average reader these days I don't know what it is.
Rating: 7 of 10
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Abigail and the Snowman #1: It's been a little while since I had a good, new all ages book to look at for this column so Abigail and the Snowman is a breath of fresh air. It's the story of a lonely little girl named Abigail who has just moved to a new town with her single father. Her dad is kind of a screw up who loses his job before they even unpack their house and is forced to ignore Abigail on her birthday to fill out applications to keep them from the street.
Abigail tries hard to make new friends but is stuck playing with her imaginary dog Claude. That is until she runs into a yeti at the playground. Though he is invisible to everyone but children he's real and not imaginary. He's also on the run from government spooks who use him in various experiments.
Abigail and the yeti -- who assumes the name Claude because it's better than his experiment designation number -- hit it off pretty well. Oh there's a conversation where Claude rather angrily points out that Abigail calling him a bigfoot is offensive since they are smelly apes and the yeti are a proud, ancient people, but aside from that the two start off on their grand adventure together. Roger Langridge has crafted a warm and relevant modern fairytale that should make the kid in all of us smile.
Rating: 8 of 10