This week, Sam continues with Nerdophiles-favorite Lumberjanes, from BOOM! Studios. Jackson enjoyed the newest spin on Poison Ivy with Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death, from DC Comics, as well as the family focus of Uncanny Inhumans, from Marvel Comics.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Author: Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh
Artist: Carey Pietsch
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
The girls continue to embark on two separate adventures. While the bulk of the Lumberjanes try to help Seafarin’ Karen get her boat back from the selkies, Molly and Ripley help the Bear Woman with a task of her own. It turns out there are ripples in the forest that lead to other dimensions of lost things. She enlists the girls’ help to try and close them. At first, Molly is excited – and Ripley is totally excited when faced with the prospect of seeing real dinosaurs – but when the Bear Woman leads them into one of the other dimensions she starts to question the Bear Woman’s plan.
Meanwhile, the others are doing their best to come up with a way to get to the boat without going into the water. After Seafarin’ Karen fails to use her wolf powers to get to the boat, they turn to engineering and mathematics to save the day. They end up making a bridge that can support Karen’s weight. But when she gets across the others try and go after her. When the bridge breaks Jo is rescued by the selkies and – wait what? Yeah, the selkies rescue her. They aren’t bad guys. They just want the one selkie’s missing coat back.
But Seafarin’ Karen doesn’t have it. And it turns out the weirdness going on with the water isn’t the selkies’ doing either. Something else is going on and they all realize it a little too late when the boat starts getting pulled into a localized whirlpool…
It’s nice to see the girls splitting up a bit and having separate adventures. But it does make the book feel a little disjointed. Ideally, the next issue will see Seafarin’ Karen, the girls, and the selkies meeting up with Molly, Ripley, and Bear Woman in the other dimension. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Sam Wildman is a co-founder and co-editor at Nerdophiles. Follow her on twitter @samaside.
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1 of 6
Author: Amy Chu
Artist: Clay Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
Of the core Batman rogues, few suffer from a lack of definitive stories quite like Poison Ivy. Some of that is a matter of history. Relative to characters like Two-Face, the Joker, and Penguin, she’s a relatively new villain, introduced in 1966 and primarily relegated to the comics, while her contemporaries made appearances in Adam West’s Batman. Some of it is also her relatively less restrictive morality. In stories such as “No Man’s Land,” Ivy is almost a hero and in runs like Birds of Prey and Gotham City Sirens, she’s at worst a slightly immoral vigilante. So much about who Ivy is as a character puts her at odds with the other Gotham City rogues and it’s interesting how rarely that separation is the focus of stories.
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death could be the story to correct just that. Writer Amy Chu focuses the issue entirely on Ivy’s separation from those around her. As she’s given a shot at a research position at Gotham Botanical Gardens, her immorality and criminal connections put her at odds with the academics. When she’s flirting and brawling alongside her on-again, off-again girlfriend Harley Quinn, she’s bored and distant, lacking the obsession with pain, violence and chaos that defines her lover.
It’s smart characterization, particularly for the New 52 incarnation of the character, who’s not quite as human as she was pre-Flashpoint. Artist Clay Mann does a wonderful job here. He has a reputation for drawing characters defined in part by their sex appeal and here, he gives a wonderful mysterious, charm to Ivy’s movements, even as she revels in her lack of humanity.
There’s a lot of establishing character in the first issue of the miniseries and it’s not really until the last pages that the plot begins to kick in but I don’t think readers will really mind. Chu and Mann create such a compelling portrait of a character uncomfortable in her own environment and skin. It’ll be interesting to see how Ivy responds to the mystery she’s drawn into but if this characterization continues, it’ll be wealth worth following to the end.
Uncanny Inhumans #4
Author: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The problem I had with Marvel’s initial wave of comics featuring Inhumans in the wake of the Infinity event was that it didn’t seem as if the creative team had found what was compelling about one of Marvel’s strangest races. The Inhumans are meant to feel like the other, a race that rejected understanding and regular society in favor of their insular existence. In the first Inhuman run, they just didn’t feel special or powerful as more and more Inhumans came to Attilan, all of whom seemed to have more of a connection to the world outside of the kingdom rather than the characters and ideas that define it.
Uncanny Inhumans feels like a conscious reaction to that criticism. Focusing on the heavy-hitters like Black Bolt, Medusa, Triton and the new Reader, as well as Beast and the Human Torch, it feels like the stakes can be higher and there can be a focus on what makes these characters unique. Writer Charles Soule and penciler Steve McNiven set the stakes high in the first arc, with Black Bolt leading a time-spanning war against Kang the Conqueror to save his son before he’s damned to killing and becoming the new incarnation of the murderous pharaoh.
Putting the focus on Black Bolt and Medusa trying to rescue their son lets the book emphasize the Inhuman franchise’s focus on family as well as adding additional shading and complications to the burgeoning romantic relationship between Johnny Storm and Medusa. It’s a smart way to emphasize what’s unique and interesting about these characters while tying them into the greater Marvel universe. For the first time, it doesn’t feel as if the Inhumans are sacrificing their uniqueness for acceptability and it adds up to the franchise’s first must-read story of the last five years.
Jackson Adams is a staff writer at Nerdophiles. He recommends the James Asmus/Clay Mann Gambit solo book very highly. Follow him on Twitter @JacksonInACup.