Comic Reviews: Gotham City Sirens, Harley Quinn, FF, and Flashpoint

I wanted to share my comic book reviews with my blog-reading audience without forcing them to go to Comic Vine to find them.


Leaves you Wanting More
Gotham City Sirens # 23 – Friends, Part 1
I am just returning to reading comics after a 12 year hiatus. Additionally, I was never that big into DC Comics. Most of my Batman exposure comes from Batman: The Animated Series. (And the Arkham video game) But I jumped into Gotham City Sirens because I’ve always loved the villianesses of Batman’s Rogue Gallery.

I have to agree with StrongProtector’s review that this is not the best comic for getting into this series. Although a new story arc is starting, it is heavily continuing from the overall GCS storyline. When I bought this issue I also bought issues 2 and 3 as those were the only ones at the store. So I have a slight idea of what’s going on, but I’m still lost. Why are the girls all mad at each other? Why is Catwoman hesitant to help out the other girls?

I’d recommend getting the trade paperbacks for the first 14 stories or so which are already available before jumping into this story.

Those things aside, one thing I’ve always loved is the Joker/Harley dynamic. It’s one of the sickest and most fascinating comic book relationships. So it’s great to see Joker and Harley back together again even if it’s destructive for her. The book is kinda thin on action – as the first book of an arc, it’s busy setting up the plot. So there isn’t too much that actually happens and that leaves me really wanting more. I can’t wait until the next issue is on newsstands.

Wait, what was the name of this series again?
Gotham City Sirens # 3 – Riddle Me This!
If this were a Riddler book or a Batman book, I would easily give this issue 5 stars. But this is the Gotham City Sirens; who are almost absent the entire book. The book was such a divergence that I kept wondering when the girls were going to arrive. And that’s a shame because being in Edward Nygma’s brain is awesome. To see his thought process as he works as a detective (huh? then again, I’ve been away from comics for >10 years) as compared to Batman’s is awesome. It’s also pretty awesome to see that he realizes the man in the Bat suit is not the one he’s faced before. (Not a spoiler if you pay attention to the thought boxes in the first page) And that makes sense. I know that comic books are constantly retconning and repeating past events and you can never really be sure how much time has passed, but we expect these characters to have faced off so often to really know each other. Especially when it comes to a genius like Nygma. I definitely want to know what happens with his story arc – does he remain good or does he return to villianhood. Will that be explored here or is it just a crossover in the vast DC Comics universe? Anyway, a poor GCS book, but a great Riddler book.

Was Harley So Different in 2003?
Harley Quinn # 33 – Behind Blue Eyes: Part 1
I’m used to a much more ditzy Harley, so I’m not sure what to make of her in this series or this particular comic. Even the art style draws her ominously sometimes. But really, it gets a low rating because there isn’t much going on. I know that’s not fair because it’s the start of an arc, but I didn’t even feel super compelled to find out what happens next. Still, I bought this one and the next four or five all together o a whim so I’m off to the next one to see if it’s any better.

This Book Redeems the Arc
Harley Quinn # 37 – issue 37
Overall I wasn’t a fan of Lieberman’s writing in the “Behind Blue Eyes” story arc. Maybe it’s a change that happened around the time of the Harley Quinn book, but she didn’t seem as carefree and ditzy as I remember Harley – as she is in most incarnations. So why four stars? Well, first of all the art in this arc was pretty darned good. Especially the inking – it gave a real sense of depth and grit to the locations. The characters came around and maybe even became a bit fleshed out for a five book arc. But what really pushed it over the edge was the ending, which encompassed most of this book. Holy Moly, what an ending! These are the only five comics I have in the Harley Quinn series, so I don’t know how it compares to the rest of this 4 year book, but it was one GOOD story once the cap was put on it at the end.

It’ll leave you dizzy
FF # 3 – Whatever Happened To All Those Reeds?
It’s slightly unfair to review this issue of FF because I JUST found out about the series with this month’s Comic Vine reviews. By the time I got to my comic shop they only had issues 3 and 4. I knew I had to get it because I’ve always been a huge Fantastic Four fan. However, the decided to start this new series with one of the most complex story-lines I’ve read in a comic book so jumping in at issue three I’m VERY, VERY lost. I only added in that explanation to couch my main criticism of FF , it jumps around a LOT. Every time I’m about to get to terms with what’s going on, we’re in another location with another set of people. And there’s a lot of mysterious and ominous stuff going on so that means they explain even less than they otherwise would.

However, the art on this new series is BEAUTIFUL! I’ve never seen the Fantastic Four drawn so well. The inking and coloring would be art even without the context of the book it’s inside of. It did intrigue me and I’m on to issue 4.

Better than the last one
FF # 4 – The Beating of Drums…
As I mentioned before, I jumped in at issue 3 so I was a bit lost. This one does a lot to help fix that. The art continues to be great and the writing/dialog are pretty good. Although I feel it’s a shame having Spidey there if he can’t verbally tussle with someone else. I know he and Johnny used to go at it, but Johnny’s not around. Still, Ben used to be good for some quips. Instead he’s just moping around in this issue. My only complaint with this issue is that there wasn’t much going on. Looks like they’re still setting up the plot.

I know that for almost the entire history of comics it’s been in and out of vogue to draw covers that have nothing to do with the contents inside, but this issue seems to take that to extremes. Ben doesn’t so much as get mad at anyone, much less throw a car around. Oh well….

I am intrigued enough to see where this series goes. It just seems to really be taking its time to get there.

The Girls are Better than Ever
Gotham City Sirens: Union # 1 – Gotham City Sirens: Union
Before reading this trade, I’d read issues , 3, and 23. (Coincidence there) Reading -7 in this trade has tied it all together for me. It’s got a lot of great moments and, all collected together, the strong focus on Riddler in the third issue doesn’t seem so bad. I can see where this book dovetails nicely with what’s been going on in the other Batman books. Although I’m coming back to comics for the first time in 10-15 years and I was never big on Batman before, Comic Vine has been quite helpful in helping me figure out what’s going on. However, other than a few moments where the girls’ adventures cross with what’s going on with the Bat-Family, they’re mostly on their own with their own issues. And I like that. Let the guys have their own books, it’s nice for the girls to get such a strong showing.

Of all the issues collected here, my favorite one is the last one. It’s a Christmas issue where the ladies take a little R&R time and you get some good character growth time with two of the three. That’s very satisfying.

Overall, the most interesting thing about this book is that t he girls are, for the most part, trying to stay clean. Somehow trouble keeps finding them. But that’s what makes it the most unique villain teamup book I’ve ever read. They aren’t teaming up to take out their arch-nemisis. They’re teaming up to avoid their life of crime. I can’t wait to get onto the next trade so I can get caught up to the monthlies.

The Saga Continues
Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens # 1 – Songs of the Sirens
The nice thing about trade paperbacks is that they sometimes include issues from other books if they’re relevant to the current plot. That was the case in this second volume of Gotham City Sirens. It includes Catwoman 83 which continues the story of Catwoman’s sister. This comes into play in the last couple books collected in GCS. And so that was a nice addition to the collection.

This volume has a lot more of the girls settling in to living together so there is quite a bit more fan service. I’d say that most of it isn’t gratuitous so I didn’t find it bothersome. We also get another Riddler issue. Apparently something happened to him in another book because he seems a bit off balance and ready to tip into the side of returning to crime. He makes mention here and there of another incident, but I imagine the details are in Detective Comics. Batman and Robin were essentially absent.

The book continues to develop these characters and I hope it’s not for nothing when the big DC reboot comes. They seem to really be learning a lot, even if some of that is the futility of trying to stay clean.

Someone needs to kill The Flash
Flashpoint # 1 – Flashpoint: Chapter One of Five
The title comes from the fact that my brother tells me the last DC reboot was rooted a Flash story as well. I guess all publishers do that because I seem to recall that most of the major Marvel resets are caused by the X-Men. I’m not the target person for Flashpoint. I don’t read The Flash. I don’t know the DC Universe well enough to know who all the alternate timeline people are. Oh, and I hate that this will cause the reboot. But I figured that since I’ve gotten hooked into the DCU by Batman, I may as well partake in Flashpoint. I’m not, by any means, going to get all the many Flashpoint universe books, but I’ll get the main ones and the Batman ones.

So, enough background, what’s up with this book? Well, it’s the first of a series, a series that will remake the DCU, so it’s a bit slow. But it is well written and it does leave me wanting to read the next issue. I also enjoyed finding out who’s doing the opening narration. Overall, it’s a good intro to this universe and I think it’s worth buying if you’re into the DCU and want to know what’s going on rather than being caught by surprise in Sept.