The Best Comics in January Part 2: Harley and Ivy, Together at Last

Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review. Look for Part 1 here.

All-New X-Men #22: One day I hope there's a huge trade paperback collection of all these Brian Michael Bendis stories because they are wonderful, huge, and frankly a little hard to love in single issue format. Still coming off a time when the original five X-Men were brought to show their future selves just how far they had wandered from their origins, the five teenaged mutants are now trapped in the present and joined by X-23.

What they had gone through was more or less a huge recap of the fall of Scott Summers into a man who could essentially be called a terrorist, not to mention Jean Grey witnessing her own death. That's going to leave anyone shook up, and the emotional aftermath is portrayed with real poignancy by Bendis.

Now the Shi'ar have come to Earth to claim the younger Grey and make her stand trial for the crimes of the Dark Phoenix, even though she hasn't actually committed them yet. Help arrives, sort of, in the form of the Guardians of the Galaxy. There has never been a comic that couldn't be improved by more Rocket Raccoon, though I am not a fan at all of the way Stuart Immonen has taken to drawing Kitty Pryde.

The consummate professor and veteran X-Men has way too many scenes where she's drawn helpless in men's arms when she's arguably the most badass person currently on the team. It doesn't ruin the book or anything, but it is a little annoying at this stage in the game.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Harley Quinn #2: I'm on the fence about Harley Quinn. I feel that she was a brilliant addition to Batman: The Animated Series but I often feel that maybe she should have stayed there. Too often it feels like she just never fits in with the DC Universe comic-wise.

For instance, here in her solo series she feels more like a knock-off of Deadpool than her own lady. There are worse characters you could emulate, but I hope that further along she gets to deepen into something stronger.

On the other hand, planning an enormous heist because she wants to adopt every animal about to be euthanized in a Gotham animal shelter is just plain adorable. Psychotic, but adorable. That Harley...

I was pleased to finally see Harley and Poison Ivy wake up in bed together. The two villains have basically had the longest unspoken romantic relationship I've ever seen in comics, and though it's still portrayed as not-exactly committed and sexual it's a long overdue step forward for the both of them.

Rating: 7 of 10

Piece continues on next page.

The X-Files: Conspiracy/Ghostbusters #2: Never really was an X-Files fan really. I was too young to get it the first time around and never really have find the time to learn since. Still, it was and remains huge enough that I do know who the Lone Gunmen are, and IDW has taken their love of crossovers into some pretty amazing territory.

The Gunmen have received word of a future catastrophe linked to bizarre urban legends, and set out on a quest to investigate them in hopes of averting it. This quest will take them all across IDW's properties. This week, they investigate the one and only Ghostbusters.

It's always a little weird when artists go with the cartoon Ghostbusters instead of the movie ones, but Ego is four-times the badass in that form so I'm not complaining. It's not an overly compelling meeting. The Gunmen think it's a scam, release a bad ghost, and then team with the Ghostbusters to contain it. Mostly the gift is in Erik Burnham's fantastic gift for dialogue, which keeps the action flowing fast and fun.

Next month, the Gunmen are off to look for giant turtles in the sewer, with robots that can disguise themselves as vehicles and a spectral vigilante guided by a crow also on the horizon. IDW may use this sort of thing as a crutch, but it's definitely fun.

Rating: 7 of 10

Miracleman #1: For all my comic reading life I have been told that Miracleman was one of the greatest comics ever written, and that I would never be able to read it. The legal wrangling over Alan Moore's and later Neil Gaiman's reboot of the classic, one-dimensional hero into a dark, violent deconstruction of heroism itself was so vast and deep that no one ever expected to see it end. I'd long since given up hope.

Yet somehow, completely unlooked for, it's finally here! Full reprints of the original series chocked full of behind-the-scenes features, interviews, and the like are on their way out. First comes Moore's work, then Gaiman who will finally finish the book that helped cement him as one of the comic wonders of an age a quarter of a century ago.

I don't know if anything could have lived up to the hype I'd built up for myself, but it did. It really did. Miracleman is a, well, miracle. It's a story that is genius in its execution and beautiful in the faith of its creators to see it return. Finally, a piece of comic history is going to be widely available once again.

Rating: 9 of 10

Scooby-Doo Team-up #2 My daughter is a huge fan of the classic cartoon team-ups between Scooby-Doo and Batman, and if possible the latest comic version is even better.

Mystery Incorporated is invited to a meeting of the Mystery Analysts of Gotham, which obviously includes Batman, Robin, and Ace the Bat-Hound. Everything is going just swimmingly, and yes, I consider any time an Inspector Chimp cameo is inserted into a scene to be "just swimmingly", when a giant monster attacks the group unexpectedly.

Or not. It's actually Scarecrow, and his fear gas leaves Ace and Scooby the only unaffected crime-fighters in the room. Together it's up to them to stop the crime spree.

Silly as it is, it's a really cute adventure. It's very hard to capture Scooby on the comic page, but the setting him next to the gruff, determined Ace helps a great deal. There will never be enough Batman/Scooby team-ups in my opinion.

Rating: 7 of 10

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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