Review: “Mockingbird Volume 1: I Can Explain” by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk

Mockingbird Volume 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk

A review by Courtney.

I bought Volume 1 of Mockingbird when I saw the cover of issue 8 had Mockingbird wearing a shirt proclaiming, “ask me about my feminist agenda.” I decided this was a comic book I needed to start reading and I needed to catch up because I really wanted to read issue 8. I had previously read and enjoyed the Mockingbird one shot, which was released about a year ago, so I was hopeful this was a comic I was going to enjoy.

Mockingbird (also known as Bobbi Morse, and Agent 19), starts with our heroine in a Shield medical center, going in for her regular exam. We learn Nick Fury injected her with Super Soldier Serum and Infinity formula to save her life.  Bobbi is now considered high risk and the doctors of Shield are taking precautions and keeping a close eye on her. She is given a beeper and must come into the doctor’s office whenever they page her. Bobbi is shown in the doctor’s office in a variety of different clothes and we learn that the progressing issues are her adventures and this explains the different clothes. Bobbi is a multifaceted spy who does excel at kicking butt, but she also loves math and science and is incredibly snarky. Bobbi’s adventures revolve around saving people, and sometimes those people are her exes, whom she still has good relationships with.

This comic is told from Mockingbird’s perspective; which I love and thought was incredibly smart because it allowed me to get in her head. Bobbi is the sarcastic, witty, intelligent, strong woman I want to be when I grow up. It’s not often when I can identify with superheroines, but Bobbi is so confident, that you can’t help but want to be like her. I had also initially underestimated how funny this comic was going to be, but I was literally laughing out loud reading this book. The art was great, with a number of visually awesome action sequences, I have no idea how they were conceived because there is a lot that happens very quickly. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comics with a strong female lead because honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this. I was going to add this comic to my pull list, but as of this writing Mockingbird has been canceled, so go buy all 8 issues while you can!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works 22-24” by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Baroque Works 22-24 by Eiichiro Oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Sir Crocodile is gloating to Princess Vivi over his victory in the royal courtyard. The battle has started, King Cobra is under his control, and just in case the battle stops, he has a bomb hidden near the town square, set to go off in 10 minutes. Koza, the rebel leader, overhears this and attempts to warn all the fighters in the battle below. Baroque Works shoots him before he can get the word out. So it’s up to Princess Vivi and the Strawhat crew to find and defuse the bomb before everybody is killed. Luffy shows up after figuring out Sir Crocodile’s weakness. Ms. All Sunday has King Cobra take her to the Tomb of the Royal Family.

Ms. All Sunday finds what she is looking for and King Cobra figures out that she is really Robin Nico, an archeologist who has been wanted by the Marines since she was eight years old. Luffy defeats Sir Crocodile in less than 10 minutes and Alabasta’s Civil War ends in a cleansing rain. After the dust clears the Marines surround the island nation and are searching for The Going Merry. Princess Vivi says goodbye to the Strawhats and volume 23 ends with the most iconic images of the series.

Volume 24 opens with Robin Nico joining the Strawhats. She earns the acceptance of the crew right before an ancient ship falls on them. Turns out there is an entire ocean in the sky with islands floating on the clouds. Luffy decides that they will go up there, so the crew goes to Jaya, the closest island on the regular sea, to get some answers.

If you do not get at least a little misty eyed during Vivi’s goodbye speech, there is a chance that you might not be human. She went through so much with the Strawhats, became a part of the crew, and all she wants is to know that she will still be their friend if they ever meet again. The crew can’t tell her anything, because the Marines are listening and they don’t want to get Vivi in trouble, so they show her. Princess Vivi of Alabasta is now and forever a member of the Strawhat crew.

This is not the last we’ll see of the Alabasta gang. Starting with chapter 35 (Vol. 4) the chapter titles are also a “where are they now” story for important characters, usually people who show up again later in the series. It starts with Capt. Buggy(vol. 2) and crew, then it’s Kolby and Helmeppo (vol. 1), next is Django (vol. 4) and currently Hachi (vol. 8). This is great, because it shows just how small the world is (many of the characters run into other characters from different story arcs) and it allows characters to return to the main story in a natural way.

Translation wise, it seems like it went stagnant. Zoro is still spelled Zolo, Luffy still says “Gum gum” before their attacks, and a devil’s fruit power that changes a man into a jackal is called the “Mutt Mutt Fruit.” I personally would have gone with “Canine Canine Fruit.”

I really like how the crew reacts to the transition of Vivi to Robin. Princess Vivi is an optimistic, driven, and self sacrificing girl. Robin is an older, disillusioned career criminal. They are opposites in just about every way possible, but both fit in well with the Strawhat crew for practically the same reasons. Sanji fell instantly in love with both of them. Nami was motivated by greed. Ussop, Luffy, and Chopper had a new playmate. Zoro remains aloof.

These are the volumes of One Piece that made me fall madly in love with the series. They show everything wonderful about the series. Action, character development, jokes, and incredibly satisfying sucker punches.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Orchid, Volume 1” by Tom Morello, Scott Hepburn and Dan Jackson

A review by Courtney.

I received this comic in a box from Comic Bento during the month that the fabulous Gail Simone curated the box and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since. From the description on the back of the book, it sounded like a comic I would love and I was excited to read it, I just hadn’t. So I finally picked it up to see if Dark Horse comics could produce something other than Firefly and Buffy that I would love.

Orchid is a dark dystopian comic that takes place after global warming has occurred. The ocean levels have risen, animals have evolved into terrifying beasts, the wild is now truly wild and people have to fight to survive. Class is a defining feature in this story; the rich are safe and because technology no longer works, the poor have become slaves because who else is going to do all the brute labor? The story starts with introducing Simon who is a member of the rebellion against the upper class. Simon is in possession of a magical mask that imbues the wearer with strength, however if the person is unworthy of the mask, it makes them implode. The mask was worn by the previous leader of the rebellion and is a symbol of hope. Simon’s group of rebels is captured and the leader of their group, Anzio, is taken prisoner for information and to be killed as a message later. Simon escapes with the mask and is on the run while trying to figure out how to rescue Anzio.

While running, Simon meets a whore named Orchid and her mother and little brother. Orchid is trying to work and steal to help her family survive so her brother can have a better life. Through a turn of events Orchid, Simon, and the little brother end up captured by slavers, which Simon swears is a good thing because it will get them where they need to go and they can help the rebellion. Orchid does not really care about helping the rebellion, only about getting free with her little brother; but since part of Simon’s plan involves escaping from the people who have enslaved them, she helps him. The story sets up a quest, a classic tale of the poor wanting to dethrone the rich so everyone can have a better life and so forth.

I didn’t really like this comic and that bummed me out because I wanted to like it. Orchid has a lot of the elements I generally lean towards when looking for comics or new stories to read; it’s dystopian and there’s a couple cool female characters. However, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and the story wasn’t written in a compelling enough way to keep me interested or wanting more. The story felt like one that has been told, and there just weren’t enough new elements and it wasn’t told in an interesting enough way to keep me reading. The twists that the story tried to keep me interested with were all things I’ve read that have been done better in other comics. The cover to this book looks amazing, and is something I could have easily bought in a store, however the story after it and art inside just fell flat. I would only recommend this book to people over the age of 18 because the material the story covers is dark, violent and graphically sexual.

My rating: 1.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Black Widow Volume 1: A Finely Woven Thread” by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto


Review of Black Widow Volume 1: A Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. A review by Courtney.

This volume has been sitting on my shelf for a while, and for some reason I just kept putting off reading it. I picked it up because of the hype of the Avengers, and Black Widow’s story has always been really intriguing to me. Black Widow is the most human of the Avengers in that she doesn’t have any superpowers, she isn’t a god and she doesn’t have a super suit. I was very curious about what a solo Black Widow story would entail. I was also initially concerned with the art in the this book; under the wrong hand Natasha could have been turned into just a boring sex symbol and I was really hoping that would not be the case.

Black Widow starts off full of action and with a bang. We quickly learn though that her driving purpose in life is not revenge but redemption, which is refreshing in light of the expanse of super heroes motivated by revenge stories currently circulating. Natasha (Black Widow) does not let anyone decide her moral compass as she rights the wrongs she can. We learn that she is supporting a number of people financially which is part of why she takes her assassin jobs. This volume also explored an interesting idea of what “home” is and how you end up caring even when you try hard not to.

One of my favorite things about this book is the art. I don’t think I’ve ever really raved about art in a comic book as much as I do about the art in this book. The pages look like they’ve been painted and it gives Natasha a much more down-to-earth-real-vibe. I also enjoyed that in this volume there are no love interests, it’s very much a redemption, figuring your sh*t out story. I liked that she was flawed and had trouble trusting her own instincts sometimes even when she knew better. Natasha kicks a lot of butt as well and there is plenty of action for those that need it. I was surprised at how much I related to Natasha, but her unrealized search for home and belonging really resonated with me.

I really enjoyed Volume 1 and will try to get my hands on Volume 2 when I can because I am intrigued about her journey and look forward to seeing where Natasha goes next. I would recommend this book to ages 14 and up because of the level of violence. If you enjoyed Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, I would consider picking this up because there were Hawkeye vibes periodically.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood” by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

Review of "Wonder Woman" by Brian Azzarello and Cliff ChiangA review by Courtney.

Wonder Woman has long been one of my favorite characters and I was extremely excited to read her in comic book form to see if she was as amazing of a character in book form as I had built her up in my head to be. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting the story to be like, but I wasn’t expecting the story I got; it was much darker and grittier than I expected.

This volume starts off with showing us what some of the gods are doing. By gods, I’m talking about Zeus, Hera, Hades etc… One of the gods decides that he needs to take out a girl and another god disagrees and gives her a magical key which sends her to Diana. From there we learn that Diana is actually a daughter of Zeus and Hera is not pleased about it. This conflicts with the original origin story of Wonder woman being created from clay and her mother’s will. Initially no man was involved with her birth which was what made her superior and a hero for women. The book does call this out and goes on to explain Diana’s new origin story. Wonder Woman then has to deal with the consequences of knowing who her father is and her new siblings whom are not pleasant to say the least.

I had a hard time being drawn into Wonder Woman. It was extremely hard to connect with Diana as a character and all of the different gods in the story were confusing. There were a couple of characters that held my interest, but they were minor and I didn’t see a lot of them. I was also unhappy with the way Wonder Woman’s origin story was completely rewritten. I would have liked to have been privy to what she thinking some of the time. She was dealing with a lot of extremely emotional stuff and it felt like I never learned how she really felt about it other than shock and disbelief which are things I would have expected anyways.. Honestly, I wanted more from a character whom I had held on a pedestal for all those years, and this was the volume that made her fall off of it for me, although I don’t think it’s entirely her fault. I am interested in reading more Wonder Woman, although perhaps under a different author.

This volume dark and I would not recommend it for children. I would recommend it for people looking for a different take on Wonder Woman. I would rate it what I did because I have no desire to read more by this author.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Paper Girls #1” by Brian K . Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

Paper Girls #1 by Brian K . Vaughan and Cliff Chiang A review by Courtney.

Paper Girls is a brand new title that I was excited to read because Brian K. Vaughan writes one of my current favorite titles, Saga. Within the first few pages of Paper Girls, I realized that I was going to have to apply the first rule of improv, which means that I just mentally say “yes” and go wherever the the writer takes me. At the moment this is less necessary in Paper Girls than it is in Saga, but as this is only the first issue, I don’t want to make any long term predictions.

From the title of this comic I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, and midway through the book it seems to be as the title suggests; that this story is indeed about a group of girls who deliver newspapers in their seemingly normal neighborhood. The girls have grouped together to deliver papers for safety purposes, and they appear to be sort of girls who are regularly challenging gender norms, which I liked a lot. The story progresses and you learn that things are maybe not quite as normal as they seem.

I liked the language that the girls used in Paper Girls, although they do cuss a few times, so I would not recommend it to a younger audience. The art in Paper Girls has a noir feel to it; the darker colors set a muted tone which drew me in as a reader. I appreciated that the artist understood that he was drawing girls aged 12-13 years old, who were trying to keep warm while delivering newspapers. This was a strong first start for Paper Girls; I’m excited to find out where the story goes next.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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