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Volumes with Vanri: Faith, Vol 1

Written by: Jody Houser51bsrdz8b5l-_sy344_bo1204203200_
Art by: Francis Portella, Marguerite Sauvage
Published by: Valiant

While I’ve never read a comic before in my life, I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies. I know, I know, they’re not the same. I just want to get my point across. I grew up with the film, television and cartoon adaptations of Marvel and DC superheroes. From X-men to Batman to The Avengers, I’m acquainted with a few heroes. That being said, after reading Faith: Hollywood & Vine, my new favorite superhero is Zephyr, the lovable and relatable Faith Herbert.

Faith, who goes by the alias Summer Smith, is a nerdy, awkward and overweight woman who not only saves the world but also dates buff, attractive guys (it’s not impossible, ladies!). As a nerdy, awkward and overweight woman, I identify with her more than any other hero I can think of. She’s just like me, but is comfortable with and proud of who she is, which is something a lot of women and girls struggle with. She’s goals, basically.

Faith: Hollywood & Vine contains the first four issues of Faith Herbert’s stand-alone mini-series. From my research, I found that Faith’s character first appears in Harbinger #1, where she joins The Renegades to fight for good after she learns she’s a psiot (think mutants from X-Men). In her stand-alone series, however, Faith has left the Harbinger Foundation to attempt to fight crime in Los Angeles on her own.

In the first four issues, we see Faith attempt to hide her real identity as she keeps a day job at an entertainment blog called Zipline, come across a new alien enemy called the Vine, and basically just be a badass body-positive role model.

As this is the first comic I’ve ever read, I have nothing to compare it to. The artwork is fantastic. Faith’s boss is creepily intense when talking to her employees about their stories and deadlines, which is apparent on her face. Faith herself even changes slightly in appearance depending on whether we’re seeing her in her everyday life or in her fantasies (of which she has a lot!). It’s an amazing detail, as I think we all attempt to make ourselves more attractive in our fantasies, while still being us.

The story itself was a great introduction to Faith as a stand-alone hero. It’s a great time in her superhero career to break off as she knows enough to actually be able to fight crime, but is also naïve enough that she fumbles and makes mistakes. She may be a superhero, but she’s a human being who must learn and grow in her profession, just like the rest of us, and we as readers get to learn and grow with her.

If you haven’t read Faith: Hollywood & Vine, I recommend you do so. Not only is Faith funny and relatable, but she’s just the person women and girls across the world need in order to feel like they can do and be anything. I’m glad Faith was my first comic book and she certainly won’t be my last.

Volumes with Vanri is a new spotlight by Vanri the Rogue, who is brand new to the world of comics. All comics featured in this spotlight can be found in various comic stores as well as on ComiXology.

Comic Book Spotlight: Batgirl #1

Title: Batgirl #1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque
Published by DC Comics
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Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
A bit of history: the first post-Killing Joke-version of Batgirl that appeared about 5 years ago via “The New 52” was a no-nonsense woman dealing with recently getting back on her feet, and the after affects of PTSD. Then the powers that be did a bit of re-branding, making Barbara slightly younger, with a whole new outfit (which is far more visually striking) and suddenly she was worrying about her online presence, Instagram and her popularity as a superhero in a piece of the city called Burnside. That brings us to this new #1! Babs has left Burnside and is doing some globe-trotting, starting in Japan, specifically to meet an elderly ex-crimefighter, Chiyo Yamashiro, aka FRUIT BAT.

 

OK, so on her first day in Japan, Babs runs into her old friend Kai, who just happens to be her new roommate, coincidentally, on the other side of the world. Even though I love super-heroes being taken out of their comfort zone and into a new locale, in this issue, Kai sees a red-headed friend from Gotham, and then runs into a red-headed Vigilante from Gotham the next day? This is the bit where we as readers have to do some belief-suspension and just go along with it. This is a long-running super-hero trope that we just have to pretend not to notice. Or is it? Should we expect better from modern comics?

 

At any rate, the action soon ramps up when Kai is attacked by a bad-ass “school girl” and Babs has to jump in as Batgirl, only to have the aforementioned Fruit Bat take care of the kid herself. She deflects a knife-toss meant for her throat, sending it bouncing off a nearby drum and through the School Girl’s tie! Not bad for a lady 104 years in. Babs sees this and decides, as good as she is, she needs more training. Fruit Bat, clearly unable to take her on as a student, tells Batgirl to “find Teacher.” Before succumbing to a weak heart, imparts, “You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way.” This, plus a billboard, lead our favorite ginger to the MMA Grand Prix in Singapore, and to issue #2.

 

Upon a second reading, I actually liked the mystical coincidences that popped up here, despite it reeking of cliched “Asian magicks.” I’ve always enjoyed when a crime-fighter needs to travel the world to learn different techniques. It gives the character a sense of having to actually work for their abilities, unlike in shows such as Arrow where it only takes the length of an episode to become a master of martial arts and cool weaponry.

The art by Rafael Albuquerque is sketchy yet fluid, kinetic but still solid. It’s a bucket of fun to look at, and the colors by Dave McCaig have a Pop-Art sensibility and don’t take themselves too seriously, if that makes sense. It’s a beautiful book, with a fun story, give it a shot!
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Be sure to visit Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex in Manayunk for great comics just like this one! Like them on Facebook here!
Note from the editor: This month’s Comic Spotlight was delayed due to conflicting schedules.

JD Reviews: Spider-Women Alpha #1

Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artists: Vanesa Del Rey
Published by Marvel

Review by: Johnny Destructo

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Silk (Cindy Moon): a gal spider-bitten by the same spider that bit ol’ Spidey. She was then trapped in a bunker for ten years, without any human interaction.

Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew): previously a super-spy, now a super-hero and recent mother, the eldest of the bunch.

Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy): a Gwen from another dimension who was bitten by the radioactive spider that chomped on the Peter from our dimension. Her Peter died in her arms, and she’s in a punk-band named The Mary Janes.

I’ve seen Spider-Gwen appearing in our Marvel Universe here and there, and was confused, thinking she was in her own Universe (The Gweniverse? I dunno). Turns out, she can travel back and forth thanks to a “Dimensional Travel Watch.” Think iWatch, but with +1 to Inter-dimensional Portal Apps. This is important, because most of the story hinges on this doo-hicky.

We start off in the Gweniverse, watching as Gwen is watched and plotted against by a fella in a Spidery outfit and an unknown higher-up. She zips over to our Universe (designated The 616) to get brunch with Silk and Spider-Jessy, but instead decide on heading back to Gwen’s place for alternate-dimension fooding. They fight a giant Super Adaptoid (see also: Giant Robot that can recreate your powers), and come back to get their stuff to go home only to find out that their Dimension hopper thingy is GONE.

Dun-dun-dunnn.

(Turns out the Super Adaptoid was there just to keep them busy while the aforementioned Spidery villain stole their thingy, preventing them from getting back home). Also revealed is the the Evil Mastermind behind this plan: THE—ahhhh, I won’t spoil it for you. But it was a pretty good cliff-hanger.

Now it might not seem like there’s all that much going on here, story-wise, but the delish is in the details. Each character feels fleshed out, have different mannerisms, different speech-patterns, etc. It’s really fun character work that deals with raising a new-born, adjusting to society after being away so long, and just general gossip. And they don’t all get along! I expected this book to be about 3 Spider-Friends, but not so much. Gwen and Silk both seem to be friends with Jessica, but Gwen can’t seem to stand Silk and is kind of a jerk to her. We’ve all been in this situation before, and it reads as fairly authentic.

The one negative I have about this issue though is the art. The brush work feels organic and the figures have movement, but when it comes to the faces, the work looks rushed. It’s a look more suited to a Vertigo title, or perhaps an Image book, but it seems a little out of place here.

Otherwise, this is a good beginning to a Marvel crossover event that I might actually care about!

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, and graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at www.facebook.com/jaydotdeedot.

Follow his twitter: @poptardsgo.

JD Reviews: Faith #1

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Francis Portella, Marguerite Sauvage
Published by: Valiant

Reviewed by: Johnny Destructo

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For those who aren’t aware, great superhero books aren’t published exclusively by Marvel and DC comics. There are a bevy of excellent options out there, just waiting for you to take a chance on them. Invincible, by The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman comes to mind, as well as an excellent teen-hero book called Harbinger. It’s from the pages of the latter that a charming and enthusiastic hero soars to give us her first solo title: Faith.

First thing’s first. This is a super fun first issue put out by a company that has been putting out excellent superhero books for several years now, but has somehow flown under the radar. Faith is a infectiously excitable heroine who lost her parents at a young age and sought comfort in comics, sci-fi and other mainstays of geeky pop culture. She always wanted to be a superhero, and finally got her chance when she discovered that she was a Psiot (think Mutants from X-men).

She had a good run with The Renegades, the team of heroes from the Harbinger comic, but decided it was in her best interests to split from the team and go off on her own from the hubbub of L.A. She lives on her own and has a job blogging for an entertainment site. This issue is mostly set-up, getting to know our heroine and her new life on the West Coast, introducing us to her first solo villains, and then…a cliff-hanger ending. On it’s basest level, this is a hell of a fun start to a series that I plan on keeping up with. But let’s also talk about another level that this book works on…

When looking for change in a system, whether it be inclusion of different races, or genders, I often wonder, “is it better to ignore the issue, since it shouldn’t really have any bearing, or is it important to the conversation to acknowledge such things?” I was partially of the mind to do this review without ever mentioning the physicality of the main character, but I’m afraid that would do a disservice to what I think is a very important issue here: Faith is fat. The comic doesn’t mention it even once, but the reason I’m bringing it up here is that it seems like an important milestone in making comics more relatable for everyone. More people than ever before in the history of the medium can pick up a book and get an enjoyable experience that speaks to them. There have been so many conversations in my shop about how most women in comics have big chests, tiny wastes and can twist their bodies in physically impossible positions to show off all their assets. “But where are the women who look like real women?” You could go to Strangers in Paradise, Rachel Rising (both by Terry Moore) but those aren’t superhero books, and you could check out a story in Invincible where his GF Atom Eve gained a bunch of weight due to stress issues, but this is the first time that a woman of a heavier weight is the star of her own series, and that’s pretty f#$%ing important.

If you’re looking for excellent super-heroics looked at through a slightly different lens, check out FAITH. Make the leap.

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, and graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at www.facebook.com/jaydotdeedot. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo.

JD Reviews: The Legend of Wonder Woman

Writer, Pencils: Renae De Liz
Inker, Colorist, Letterer: Ray Dillon
Published by: DC Comics

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Review by: Johnny Destructo

The mythical island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons, is beset with a growing darkness, and the young Princess Diana is the only one who can feel it. That is, until she meets Alcippe.

I’ve been following Renae De Liz on the social medium, just because I came across her artwork and loved it. It’s been a fun ride, watching as her talent grew and as she announced that she would be working on a Wonder Woman title. I didn’t, however, know that she would be doing the writing as well as the art, and she nails both with ease.

This is a different approach to the Wonder Woman origin story (and I’m sure you will correct me if I’m mistaken, dear Internet), in that this is the first time I’ve seen a long-form version of Diana’s youth. The first 1/3 of the book is spent delivering the back-story of the Amazons, the Gods, Themyscira and setting up the mystery of Diana’s birth, then we jump to the young princess’ preadolescent years. Here we find a wistful, melancholic girl, set apart from her peers through the immemorial walls of birth and class. Other girls run and play while she ponders the growing sickness coursing through The Island, and mourns her inability to do anything about it. Diana feels the call of the sword and shield, but is set upon by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to become a regal and peaceful princess.

Enter: Immortal Bad-ass Warrior Alcippe.

This is a very serious, almost Game Of Thrones-level take on the Warrior Princess we all know and love. This isn’t the Geoff Johns’ Justice League version of the character that seemed almost on the ditzy side. That WW felt more like a Michael Bay female character than I’m used to. By comparison, the Diana in this book is already wiser and more interesting. When this 9-issue series is all said and done, I look forward to handing customers a fully fleshed-out Wonder Woman story worthy of her royal origins.

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA, called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at facebook.com/jaydotdeedot.

Follow his twitter: @poptardsgo.