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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the men (part one)

Following on from our previous post about good women characters of colour within superhero comics, we come to the second post, about male characters of colour.

Firstly, an explanation of the label system. 
On the blog we label all our posts with CoC for Characters of Colour if the character has a significant role in the book.  You can view all posts tagged with this label here, this includes the independent comics.

Don’t forget our manga reviews.  Most of our manga is set in Asian countries so the default ethnicity becomes Asian and there are very few white people in the books.  As such we won't list any manga titles in this post.  Independent and manga comics will be covered in another post.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

DMZ: On the Ground

written by Brian Wood
art by Riccardo Burchielli and Brian Wood
colours by Jeromy Cox

What's It About?
A second American Civil War has broken out, anti-establishment militias banding together in the American heartlands to form the Free States while the US government is busy fighting foreign wars. US forces have managed to halt the Free States' advance in New York. The US holds Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island while the Free States hold everything inland of New Jersey. In the middle is Manhattan Island, a no man's land, a warzone known to the world as the DMZ.

Matty Roth is a young photo-journalist interning with Liberty News (“News for America and Americans!”) attached to an award-winning journalist being flown into the DMZ. Caught in an ambush the news team and its military escort are slaughtered, leaving only Matty alive. With only a press pass for protection Matty finds himself the only embedded journalist in the centre of the warzone. Either it'll make his career or kill him.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Writer: Judd Winick
Art: Various
Publisher: DC

What’s it about?
The Outsiders are a superhero team set up to deal with the more dangerous threats to the DC Universe.  They have no interest in good PR or in being symbols of hope, instead they want to do the job – take down the dangerous guys and go home at the end of the day.  It’s work, not family.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

written by Joss Whedon
art by John Cassaday
colours by Laura Martin 

What's It About? 
Marvel created the Astonishing imprint as a showcase for big name creators. The idea was to give these high-profile creators free reign to work magic on their own favourite characters, to tell the stories they really wanted to tell. Astonishing X-Men was the first title in the imprint and paired Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame with the art team of Wildstorm's flagship title Planetary.

As a team of super-powered mutants the X-Men are ostracised from mainstream humanity. As such, they have always been a vehicle for allegorical stories about prejudice, be it racial, religious, sexual and so on. Whedon opens his series with the announcement that scientists have discovered a way to “cure” mutants, to safely remove their powers and render them “normal”. But where did this cure come from? What secrets are the Benetech corporation hiding? And what will this cure mean to the mutant community?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero Comics - the women (part one)

Someone on the facebook group recently asked where all the strong female characters of colour in superhero comics were.  This is a very good question and one that I feel needs answering.

I think there is a feeling that superhero comics tend to feature only white heroes (and male ones at that).  Whilst historically this was certainly the case, in recent years it has got better.  There are now several characters of colour in the superhero books (although not as many as there are white characters).  They are also in independent publications and manga.  I'm going to use this post to highlight a few particularly great female characters, and then do another post of the male characters.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Superman: Sacrifice

Publisher: DC
For full credits see the other information section at the end of this post.

What's it about?
This is a dark time in the DC Universe.  Heroes have been murdered.  Trust is being lost.  Civilians can't be saved.  Is it any wonder that tempers are frayed?  Against this background, Superman sees his arch enemies going after Lois, killing her.  Lois is the love of his life, so when he sees her dead body, he can't cope and he vows to destroy the murderer.

But things are not what they seem, and in his fury he has really taken down one of his closest friends, Batman, and nearly killed him.  It is revealed that he is hallucinating the murder sprees, and Wonder Woman is the only one that can stop him.  How will she do it?  What will the consequences be?

Monday, 9 May 2011

Manhunter: Street Justice

Today's review comes courtesy of Alexander Lyons.  Alex is a UK-based feminist theorist with a speciality in identity politics and poststructuralism in comics. He's got a weak-spot for Greg Rucka, Wonder Woman, and the obscure ramblings of Helene Cixous. You can find his own ramblings on Twitter. He has very curly hair.

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Penciller: Jesus Saiz
Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colourist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Jared K Fletcher
Publisher: DC

What’s it about?
Hot shot federal prosecutor Kate Spencer is used to stalking big game in the courtroom, but when a new case doesn’t go her way, she decides to take her war on crime onto the streets.

After a meta-human serial killer, Copperhead, escapes the death penalty in her latest case and then manages to break out on the way to prison, Kate borrows the name ‘Manhunter’ and helps herself to a super-powered suit to take the villain down herself. A firm believer in lethal force for the country’s worst and most sadistic criminals, Kate hunts down Copperhead to deliver justice as she sees it, and then rushes in to a career as a costumed villain-killer.

Raising interesting questions about the grey areas between heroes and vigilantes, villains and saviors, fate and free will, Manhunter follows the decisions that Kate makes as they pit her at odds with some of the world’s deadliest criminals.  This work creates conflict with her ex-husband, challenges her role as a part-time mother, and puts her in contrast to DC’s premier heroes: the Justice League.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011 is nearly here!

Don't forget that tomorrow, 7th May is Free Comic Book Day! (FCBD for short)

As we wrote about here this is quite simply an opportunity to get free comics.  What could be better than that?  All you need to go is go along to your nearest participating store and pick up the comics that are part of FCBD.

The official website for Free Comic Book Day can be found here and a list of the comics available can be found here.  We gave some guidance to the books in our previous post on FBCD here.  There's books for all different tastes - younger readers, mature readers, fans of superheroes or horror comics, independent titles , sci-fi and even educational!

So what are you waiting for?  Look up your local shop and get down there!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

You Are Here

Writer and Artist: Kyle Baker
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

What’s it about?
This book is the story of Noel Coleman. A successful painter who lives in the country just outside New York with his lovely girlfriend and endures her harsh mother everyday. But Noel isn't just a painter. He's also an ex-con artist and jewelry thief. Now he's back in NY City to sell his apartment and get rid of his past, all these secrets start catching up.

Once his fiancee arrives his problems are only starting...a serial killer starts chasing him, his friends get mixed up between a fiancee and a killer on his steps...

Will Noel be able to live to see a new day and future with his girlfriend?  Will he be able to tell her the truth?

Will they both survive?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Reign in Hell

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Tom Derenick, Stephen Jorge Segovia, Justiniano, Chad Hardin
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz, Stephen Jorge Segovia, Walden Wong
Colourist: Mike Atiyeh, Dan Brown, Tom Chu
Letterers: Steve Wands and Sal Cipriano
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
There's a war in hell and all the world will feel the aftermath.  Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze concoct a plan to overthrow the current ruler of hell, Neron.  Starting their campaign in purgatory, they offer the damned hope, and break their way through to hell proper.  Once there, they enlist more and more of the souls paying penance and full on war starts.

Meanwhile in the human world, the mystical forces of the DC universe (DCU) have noticed these changes and are more than a little worried about what effect this will have on earth.  In separate splinter groups, and for their own reasons (some altruistic, some selfish) they descend to hell to seek what they need.  For some, this is a chance to cast out the demon bound to their human self, for others, it is penance for inflicting hurt on their power source, for more it is an opportunity to get back what hell has stolen from them.
Unfortunately for them, hell doesn't play by human rules.  These guys are stuck in hell and have to get out with their lives, health and souls intact.  War rages around them and they quickly realise what is at stake.