Update June 29, 2016: I just renamed the title as I want to review other DC titles as well and did not want to create a new thread. So I'll just use this pre-existing (former Bat-Universe) thread instead. I didn't want to create a new thread/topic and waste needless bandwidth.
This will only be solo titles. I moved the superhero team book reviews to the Team Reviews thread I have in the forum. Just an FYI.
Please note that I do not put a grade on the comic book I just reviewed as all of us have different grading criteria, and not everyone has the same taste. For me personally, I take each comic book I read as something to entertain me in the next ten minutes when I read it, and welcome it as a form of stress relief from the office. So I am biased to enjoying almost all comic books, even the ones that are not popular amongst the general comic book readers. Hence I don't grade them.
By the way, if there's a line strikethrough to the comic book and issue number below, it means it was already reviewed. If not, I am still in the process of "to be read" on that particular comic book title and issue number. Thanks.
The first two reviews will be Birds of Prey #1 and Batgirl #1.
I am planning to read the following Bat Universe titles this weekend:
Batgirl #2, Batgirl #3, Catwoman v3 #1 (I'm curious to the great amazon reviews of this Ed Brubaker gem), Batman Adventures #1 (I loved the Paul Dini BTAS back in the 90's), Batman & The Outsiders #1, and I will pull a Batman one shot or Batman limited series from my stockpile as well. I don't know if I will be able to post a review for each this weekend, but I should be able to post a few this weekend (not every one of the review is going to be as long as the Batgirl #1 review I posted. I am a big Snake Eyes fan as a kid in the 80's that the silent Batgirl with face fully covered and dressed all in black had that Snake Eyes vibe to it. Batgirl Cassandra Cain might very well be my favorite comic book at this moment.)
Last Edit: Mar 7, 2016 14:55:41 GMT -5 by sabongero
2.50 USD @ April 2000 (Cover Page and 23 net pages)
Plot: Scott Peterson & Kelley Puckett Script: Kelley Puckett Pencils: Damion Scott Inks: Robert Campanella Letters: John Costanza Separations: Jamison Associate editor: Joseph Illidge Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Cover page blurb: Sensational first issue!
Notable quote(s): "David Cain had some unusual ideas about combat. He experimented with infants. Trained them in isolation and deprived them of human speech. The goal was to adapt the language center of the brain to interpret physical movement as a language. She can "read" you. Your body. That's why she understands what you're saying when she doesn't know the words. It's why in combat, she knows what you're going to do before you do it." - Batman
"We started practicing escrima together and her skill, speed... it's like unconscious for her." - Barbara Gordon
Synopsis: The story opens up with a little girl in a black bodysuit putting together a puzzle of a rose. Her activity is interrupted by the arrival of 5 goons in a dojo-like setting. They were instructed by a man with high grade video camera to remove their blindfolds, and he started filming. The five muscled goons looked confused. The little girl stuck a vicious looking Rambo knife on the floor right in front of her. Her mentor instructed the five imposing goons to take the knife and cut her. That's all they had to do. Easy money. The head goon refused to take the knife and slice the little girl. And the next thing we know he is grounded and bloodied. And then she proceeded to go after the rest.
We fast forward to a teenaged girl sparring with a wheel-chaired Barbara Gordon utilizing escrima hardwood sticks. It ended when Barbara disarmed one of the sticks right off her hand, when the young teenaged girl wasn't looking at her, but looking behind her at a picture of Batgirl. Barbara said that's enough training for now and that Cassandra had to do some studying. Later on, Barbara was at her computer and created the new profile of the new Batgirl. There was very little information. All that she knew was that Cassandra was acquired or kidnapped at birth by the master assassin David Cain, and raised in isolation while being trained day and night in lethal combat. That's how this teenaged girl grew up. She escaped about nine years ago and just drifted, and because of her childhood is almost totally incapable of language. Other than that, Cassandra Cain, the new Batgirl, is highly intelligent, and knows at best, ten words. In a flashback sequence we are then taken back in time to the streets of Hong Kong and a middle aged man beat up and took a bottle of alcohol from a homeless man. He was surprised to see a little girl with Asian features. He broke the bottle in half and threatened the little girl to stay back. The little girl did not even pay attention to his threat and just stared at the beaten up homeless man. Then the girl looked back at the middle aged man, and with a less threatening gesture to stay away from him, and she just looked at him indifferently. She then turned around one hundred eighty degrees and ran the other way. The middle aged man dropped to his knees and cried. We fast forward to the current time and we see a mugging in progress. We just see a shadow spin the goon and placed in an arm lock. The victim is somewhat shocked and still in tears. The woman victim ran away as the mugger is held helplessly in an arm lock rather easily by Batgirl. And then we see the silhouette of Batman. And the goon gets a couple of pounding and we see the mugger begging not to get hit again. We just see the figure of Batgirl with hands open as Batman told the mugger to say sorry, which the mugger proceeded to say sorry to Batgirl and the victim who is already far away. Batgirl had the body language of confusion.
We then move on where Cassandra is on the rooftop of a building and holding a red flower petal by its stem. She removed the stem from the petal and let the flower petal be blown away by the air, thus setting it free. She watched it float down on the side of the building heading towards the ground. Then the roof door opened up and a wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon greeted her and suggested to go somewhere. They went to the park and sat down at one of the benches. As people in the city park were going about their way, Barbara turned her attention to Cassandra and asked her how she's feeling and what she's going through? Cassandra closed her eyes as if in emotional pain, and then opened them up and told her no, and ran away from Barbara. Those were Cassandra's first and perhaps only uttered words in this issue. Barbara was upset with herself calling herself an idiot and suddenly realizing that Cassandra cannot tell her how she felt because Cassandra for all intents and purposes is mute at this point and cannot communicate by verbally talking. Then later that night we see that Barbara Gordon and Batman are by the entrance door of Cassandra's bedroom. We see her struggling in bed in the middle of the nightmare. Barbara confided to Batman that it has been like this with Cassandra, nightmares every night and that she's concerned they are moving Cassandra along quickly to be Batgirl. Batman asked her who Cassandra reminded her off, and Barbara replied him. And Batman turned to her saying that Cassandra is just one strong moment away from making sense of it all as to who she was and as to who she is now. They talked about the psychotic assassin, David Cain's unorthodox and lethal ideas about experimenting and training infants with isolation and deprivation to make them into lethal killers. They talked about Cassandra's uncanny natural abilities in combat. Batman told Barbara that he taught Cassandra the escrima form of combat the previous week, and Cassandra learned it in five minutes. Barbara couldn't believe it.
We are then taken to the next scene where Cassandra Cain is dressed in her Batrgirl costume and training with Batman. Batman ordered her to hit him. She does so, and he blocked it so easily. He pulled her mask to reveal her face and told her not to hold back against him, as he reassured her she doesn't have to against him, and to show him what she can do. A stern faced Cassandra Cain did as ordered. We didn't see their actual combat training. The next page we just see a winded Cassandra hunched sitting down and Batman standing up telling her she's out of shape. Cassandra shot him a rebellious look and Batman coughed up blood. And Cassandra just stared at him as if mockingly telling him, "Are you kidding me?" Batman had a semblance of a smirk and smile at her after that. Then a commotion outside took their attention. They headed out and they were in the night street with an dead security guard slumped against an emptied armored money truck. Cassandra looked downwards at the dead security guard while Batman chased someone in the opposite direction. A gunman emerged with the pistol pointed at Batgirl. She quickly disarmed him and slammed him against the wall of one of the tenement buildings. Something against the building drew her attention while the disarmed robber ran away. We get a splash page that she was looking at her shadow that for the reader would have recognized as a shadow of Batman. And then we see her catch up to the robber and smacks him around easily. As the robber tries to ask who she is, Cassandra utters her second word in the issue, "Shut up." And she knocks him out with a kick in the face.
Afterwards high above in the rooftops of some building, Batman instructs Batgirl the rules. No costumed criminals, and that Oracle will tell her about that. But the rest of the criminals is hers. And while she's in the streets, she is representing Batman. Cassandra reached to her mentor and held the palm of her hand against his face as if she understood who she is now. And at that she leapt from the roof and went patrolling the city as the new Batgirl.
Comments: The best part about this issue and the issues to come in the beginning of the series is that the main protagonist, Cassandra Cain is "mute." The illustrator has the great task of conveying her inner dialogue into a visual storytelling mode. Every panel Cassandra Cain is in, is almost basically a visual storytelling medium that relies more heavily on the pencil duties of Damion Scott. I am not disregarding or belittling the input of the plotters and scripter on this issue. Looking back, I love the consecutive pages of silent issue style moments of this comic book. It reminded me of a comic book from around three decades ago, the first ever complete silent issue comic book, G.I. Joe A Real American Hero issue #21. Snake Eyes was a mute soldier who was an ass kicker. Cassandra Cain while not the same, is one lethal ass kicker, and with the added dark costume with a fully covered face adds levels of someone whom the reader knows will open a can of whoop ass on someone. They then ended up talking about how a psychopathic David Cain experimented with infants. He trained them in isolation and deprived them of human speech. You can see then anger on Barbara's face as to what the child went through.
I loved the back and forth flashback sequences after every few pages. The young innocent Cassandra Cain being trained as a lethal killer by a man who appeared to be her mentor at that young age. And then fast forwarding back to our current time where years later as a young lady she is training in combat with Barbara Gordon, and when she's in the bat-suit, she's training with a Batman that's penciled to be more menacing. It's almost three different mentors.
You can't just help but love the portrayal of Barbara Gordon as the mother hen to a teenaged Cassandra Cain here. You can actually feel in this comic book how much she cared about Cassandra in the little things she does to show that she cared about her. For example cutting the sparring short so that Cassandra can study. She was concerned that she and Batman were moving Cassandra along and pushing her to be Batgirl too soon.
Finally, the defining moment in the issue is towards the end where there is a splash page of Batgirl's enlarged shadow against the side of the building took her attention. Her shadow was resembled that of Batman and at that point she realized who she is in the now, as opposed to who she was before. She is a crimefighter. She is Batgirl.
Last Edit: Feb 26, 2016 20:20:45 GMT -5 by sabongero
Sabongero, thanks for posting this ... this is one of my rare purchases in the year 2000. Batgirl is one of my favorites in DC Universe.
Thanks. Glad you liked it. I just realized I had over 1,000+ comic books, trades, etc on just the Batman Universe comic books alone that I might as well start devouring them. I do get to read a lot of them, I'm just not going to be able to post a review of each one of them.
Post by Action Ace on Feb 29, 2016 20:58:30 GMT -5
Chuck Dixon had been doing Birds of Prey one shots and mini series before the ongoing series started, so he has a good handle on the characters already and the series gets off to a strong start. This is my favorite era of art for Greg Land. Dixon's first three years on this title is my favorite era for Birds of Prey.
$ 1.25 USD @ October 1992 (Cover page and 22 net pages of story)
Writer: Kelley Puckett Penciller: Ty Templeton Inker: Rick Burchett Colorist: Rick Taylor Letterer: Tim Harkins Editor: Scott Peterson
Synopsis: Penguin is having a meal with his henchmen. He called over one of his goons to sit at the dining table and not to watch Batman on television as he is in the middle of apprehending one of their contemporaries. He tries to teach his henchmen some sort of class as each will have to learn a new word. One of the henchmen smart mouthed to him, and Penguin’s ruthlessness emerged as he disciplined his goon at threatening point of his deadly umbrella. Then they are contact by a shadowy figure on the television giving him an opportunity to get rid of Batman for good in return for a favor. Suddenly the background light emerged and the shadowy figure’s identity is revealed. The Joker. The Joker upset that one of his goons switched the camera lights on and revealing his identity soundly shot the person dead. He went on to talk to Penguin regarding his offer as if the murder didn’t happen. The Penguin was interested.
We then fast forward to a burglary scene. Penguin and his boys are in the middle of stealing from a Gotham City bank. They are on their way out of the bank. And then Batman crashed through one of the bank’s stained glass. But he was too late. He opened one of the closet doors to find a tied up security guard who told him he was hit from behind and then tied up. He disclosed to Batman that he didn’t see who did it. Batman released the security guard and went on his way.
We are then taken to Penguin as a guest star on a television talk show. He is putting a positive spin on his persona and trying to sway public opinion to see him in a positive light by being giving big donations to various Gotham charities. Batman and Alfred were watching Penguin on television and Penguin being portrayed as a philanthropist in the media is giving Alfred a nausea while a brooding unmasked Batman is sure Penguin has not given up his criminal ways. It’s just too much of a coincidence for Penguin’s big charitable donations is happening at the same time as the rush of bank heists all over Gotham lately. The style of the bank robberies has Batman dumbfounded as it doesn’t match any of Penguin’s modus operandi of recklessness with panache. Batman is the consummate detective indeed. Cross referencing the bank’s owners with their most updated news he found out that the banks robbed are owned by philanthropists who are easily being bankrupted by the recent robbery of the banks. And Penguin has taken over their place in high society. Bruce Wayne decides to attend a charity gala of high society that evening.
Later that evening at the Gotham Plaza Hotel, the Policemen’s Charity Banquet was taking place and in the dais, the mayor introduced Commissioner Gordon and gave him thanks. Applause from the audience filled the room. The commissioner opened the envelope to announce and publicly thank their number one public benefactor. He couldn’t believe his eyes as he read The Penguin. Applause filled the audience as Penguin stood up from his seat and celebrated the audience’s approval. As penguin took the stage and spoke on the microphone to give his thanks, a gentleman in the background approached both the mayor and the commissioner and whispered a message to them. They quickly made an announcement that they made a mistake. They cited that Bruce Wayne’s two million dollar donation to the Policemen’s Charity Banquet deserved the thanks and honor, and not Penguin. Applause from the audience masked an infuriated Penguin as he left the stage and went back to his table and plotted something sinister with his goons for some after dinner plans.
Later that night, Penguin and his henchmen broke into the Wayne Financial Institution building. They made their way down to the bottom floors to reach the vault. And once in the bottom floor, the lights go off. His henchmen starts fearing the dark and unknown. Penguin reassures them it is just the guards and not to worry. Batman descended in the dark to where they were and mentioned maybe it was Batman who was responsible for shutting the lights. And the crooks start shooting in the dark at which Penguin commanded them to cease. They bring out their flashlights and separate and search for Batman with the person finding him to yell for the others. Two of the goons are taken out as they mentioned to the others that Batman is right where they are. As two more goons approached their location, their flashlight revealed their compatriots knocked out on the floor. From behind, Batman disarms them of their weapons. And he takes them out as well. In another location, Batman is headed for the door, and one of the crooks tries to sneak on him from behind. Before he can fire his gun, Batman spun around and threw a batarang his way thus disarming him. Batman takes care of this goon as well. Batman walks to the steel plated door and into the vault and takes out the final crook that was with Penguin. Penguin celebrated prematurely thinking he has Bruce Wayne’s finances in the vault secured. Penguin gloated about the crime spree and his hatred towards the philanthropists buying the general public’s attention while telling Batman he has no proof. But Batman told him he is being taped on the videotaped which was re-routed to a live news feed and he just confessed on camera. Seeing the Penguin caught on the news, Joker gloated that even though this caper was foiled, that he got what he wanted. And the issue ended with the Joker holding a rolled up document.
Comments: Batman The Animated Series is my all-time favorite animated cartoon series. It had a dark mood but at the same time the characters have a comedic sense of timing. The illustrations in this comic book is in the same fashion and theme as the animated series. While reading Penguin’s and Joker’s dialogue I could swear I can hear Mark Hammill’s Joker character voice and Paul Williams’ Penguin character voice. It’s good that Kelley Puckett wrote the protagonist and antagonists in character as if it is in the Batman the Animated Series universe. It can be considered as if it is indeed a story from that universe.
I loved the classic BTAS portrayal of Penguin being a gentleman of high society and somewhat high strung as he tried to embed his goons with some class during the meal at the dining table. But at the same time we see the ruthlessness emerged as he placed one of his goons in place at the point of his dangerous steel pointed rod of his umbrella. The goon will learn not to be a smart mouth in front of the boss next time.
Ty Templeton’s illustrations is spot on BTAS style. I love the way Alfred is portrayed in the batcave. As an unmasked Batman contemplates about his Penguin problem and talks it out with Alfred, Alfred is drawn doing things like pouring a cup of tea and bringing it over to Bruce. Nothing is static. Alfred’s silent panels are a story of its own showing characterization, and not just having frozen panels with a Batman monologue. I love it.
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2016 18:25:14 GMT -5 by sabongero
Batman and the Outsiders were an unique group and I wished that I had paid more attention to it. It was a mistake on my part. Sigh!
I am not familiar with this group, other than perhaps Katana who I've seen a couple of times in some other comic books, and Metamorpho who I've seen in the JLU cartoons or Batman B&TB. I'm glad there are 40+issues on this run, and I'm looking forward to see how this team comes together, and what causes Batman to leave the group to go on its own.