Posts Tagged ‘Harley Quinn’

Suicide Squad Review: Not Very Good, Not All That Bad, A Somewhat Watchable Mess

August 9, 2016

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**This review is SPOILER FREE, so read away!**

Let’s start off with my major takeaway from Suicide Squad: That rumoured Harley Quinn spinoff movie that might have Batgirl, the Birds of Prey, and Poison Ivy in the mix needs to be greenlit tomorrow. Margot Robbie is a fantastic Harley Quinn, and with a decent story and some solid directing that could make for a spectacular film. She’d need to ditch the Joker, though, since he is far and away the worst part of Suicide Squad. But apart from him, she’s delightful.

The rest of the movie is less so. It’s kind of a mess, honestly, but I wouldn’t call it bad. It’s not good by any means, but it’s not bad. The plot is pretty ridiculous and makes very little sense if you think about it at all; the villain should have been able to off the whole team in about three seconds. For a huge tentpole franchise film, they put surprisingly little thought into the story. This wasn’t helped help by the very obvious reshoots, rearranging, and general flow chaos throughout. Suicide Squad is a mangled flick. You can see parts of a darker, more menacing movie and parts of a lighter, funnier movie, and they don’t really mesh together well.

Luckily, they hung the film on Will Smith and Margot Robbie, who have just enough charisma to carry it through to the end without everything totally collapsing. Deadshot is the heart of the film, insomuch as it has one, and Will Smith does what he does best and gets you instantly invested in a character by making the most of the few hints of layers that the script gives him. In the hands of anyone else, Deadshot could have been completely unlikeable, maudlin, or just plain boring, but Smith strikes the right balance. Robbie does as well, bringing an endearing and bubbly chaos to Harley Quinn that stands in stark contrast to the somewhat flat and often morose characters that surround her. Smith keeps the film grounded and Robbie keeps the film fun, and the few scenes with just the two of them are dynamite.

Not so much Harley’s scenes with the Joker. The abusive nature of their relationship is a given; it’s been a messed up scene for two decades now. But something about seeing it with real people instead of cartoons or drawings makes it extra offputting. It didn’t help that Harley was sexualized throughout the entire film, far more so than she typically is in the comics. Her costuming and the camera work leaves her more exploited than empowered. And Jared Leto’s Joker is a boring bag of creepy affectations that lacks any fun, style, or force. This movie would be a lot better if he wasn’t in it or was just relegated to a couple of flashbacks, and honestly he could just lift right out without affecting things much at all. Having Harley turn into a fawning puppy whenever he showed up marred what was otherwise a great, impeccably performed character. Even with the Joker nonsense, Harley still steals the movie.

Viola Davis is great as Amanda Waller as well. She is DARK, as the Wall should be, though dang do they really run with it. In a movie full of villains, it’s obvious that she’s the most dangerous of them all. Her interactions with the Squad are fun, but even more enjoyable are her various meetings with arrogant, powerful dudes in which she brutally and incisively turns them around to her way of thinking. She is a force to be reckoned with and it’s fun to watch her work, even when she’s hard to root for.

Generally speaking, Suicide Squad deserves to be commended for its representation. We’ve had over a decade of superhero movies where white dudes fight white dudes, and Suicide Squad is a movie where a black guy and a woman are the two leads. Moreover, four women have significant roles and two of them are women of colour, while more than half of the main cast are people of colour. This is a game changer. Now, not all of the characterizations were great; Katana was sorely underutilized, and the treatment of Slipknot was very disappointing. But in a way, it’s progress to have a film with so many women and people of colour in key roles that a couple of them end up sidelined. We’re used to having these folks sidelined in superhero movies where there’s only one of each to start with.

Ultimately, Suicide Squad doesn’t hang together very well. The plot is silly, the team camaraderie by the end largely feels unearned, and the pacing is kind of terrible. It’s not a good movie, but it remained just entertaining enough throughout. And it’s a masterpiece compared to DC’s earlier efforts like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman; it was a relief to sit through a DC movie and not fume about how the creators fundamentally misunderstood every character on the screen. Also, the plot of Suicide Squad is pretty dumb, but the plot of Batman v Superman was even dumber. And ultimately, Suicide Squad is buoyed by a lot of winning performances. I don’t think I ever want to watch it again, but there are some characters I’d love to see in another film with a better story, for sure. A Harley Quinn movie in particular. Get on it DC! I want Harley Quinn vs. Batgirl hitting cinemas in 2018, please. It’ll be a monster hit.

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Wonder Woman Stars In New DC Super Hero Girl Shorts

October 14, 2015

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Since the introductory DC Super Hero Girls short came out a week ago and didn’t feature a lot of Wonder Woman, two new shorts have been released with Wonder Woman as the main character. And they’re kind of great. I think kids are going to be super into this show.

In the first short, “All About Superhero High”, Wonder Woman gets welcomed as the first Amazon to attend the school. Being from faraway Paradise Island, he’s not very up on the local customs, though:

I actually laughed out loud when Wonder Woman threw Hal Jordan across the campus. And I love the fish out of water angle they’re going for here, having Wonder Woman trying to learn about life outside of Paradise Island and using her smart phone to do so. She’s so eager and friendly; it’s kind of adorable. Plus it’s fun that Cheetah just dislikes her from the get-go. They’re transitioning the superhero world into a high school world in fun ways. It looks like it’s not going to be heroes vs. villains so much as differing cliques and mean girls and such, which is a clever angle. A normal Harley Quinn is a tricky character for kids, but turning her into a class clown, like they did here when she shocks Wonder Woman with a hand buzzer, is a smart move.

Speaking of Harley Quinn, she and Wonder Woman take center stage in the second short, “Roomies.” The two are rooming together, and while Wonder Woman is trying to set up her room and be studious, Harley is more concerned with having fun and glitter bombs:

This one is cute, too. The polar opposite dynamic between the two of them is enjoyable, and it’s nice that Wonder Woman lightened up and decided to have some fun with her new roomie. I also like the tweaks to Wonder Woman’s costume, paring it down some from the big shoulder pad scene and giving her a braid. The changes aren’t huge, but she felt a bit more like Wonder Woman to me with that outfit. I mean, I am not the target audience AT ALL, and kids might like the original, princessier costume more. But for me, I think her outfit and this short was a good blend of iconic Wonder Woman and kid friendly.

These shorts are a good time, and I hope kids are watching them! Online shorts are cool, but an actual TV show would be even better. I doubt I’ll post all of the DC Super Hero Girls shorts because I’m assuming there’ll be a bunch, but if any are overly Wonder Woman-centric I might put them up from time to time. They’re cute and enjoyable, and I really hope they’re a hit.

Wonder Woman’s December 2015 Covers and Solicits

September 21, 2015

Let’s jump into the books straight away because Wonder Woman stars or appears prominently in about 843 different comics in December. Actually, now that I look at the list again, it’s 7. But still, it’s a lot of books! So let’s see what she’s doing to be up to during the festive season, starting with Wonder Woman #47:

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WONDER WOMAN #47
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by MIGUEL MENDONÇA
Cover by DAVID FINCH and JONATHAN GLAPION
Variant covers by AMANDA CONNER
On sale DECEMBER 30 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
As her duties as God of War draw Wonder Woman into battle, the Cheetah resurfaces to strike!

The Finches are still here, so that’s disappointing. But David’s got the month off for interior art. I’m not familiar with Miguel Mendonca, but it looks like a lot of his work has been done at Zenescope, which isn’t a terribly encouraging sign. But you never know; he could be great! We’ll find out in December.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #24:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #24
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
It’s the team-up you never expected, as Superman and Parasite take on those other energy suckers, the Pale Riders, to free Firestorm! Meanwhile, Wonder Woman fights an unstoppable behemoth that can contain—and consume—her powers!

Firestorm is still in the book? He just showed up last week. He must be sticking around for a while. I’m glad to see Superman and Wonder Woman on separate adventures this month. I’m totally on board for keeping them apart.

Superman/Wonder Woman has an annual out in December too:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #2
Written by KEITH CHAMPAGNE and PETER J. TOMASI
Art by YANICK PAQUETTE, CHRISCROSS, MATTHEW CLARK and others
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Forged in the fires of battle, their union is one the world fears and hates—and some have tried to tear it asunder! Now witness the trials of the romance of Kal and Diana, and how it all came to be. See the first kiss and last breath of Superman and Wonder Woman in this epic tale that recounts the most dangerous love story of all.

Hooboy, this sounds awful. Highlights of one of the lamest romances of all time seems like a terrible idea for a comic. But Yanick Paquette is drawing some of it, so it should like nice, at least. I’m going to be so annoyed shelling out $5 for this.

Next up, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #17:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #17
Written by TRINA ROBBINS
Art by CHRIS GUGLIOTTI
Cover by ANNA DITTMAN
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST • FINAL ISSUE
Diana’s compassion is tested when Dr. Barbara Minerva appears, begging for assistance as she seeks out the last remaining source of urzkatarga, the plant that supplies the serum that transforms her into the Cheetah. And if she can’t use it to replenish her supply, she’ll die. But when the Amazon princess/super-hero and the scientist/super-villain make their way to the “Island of Lost Souls,” they find more is at stake than expected!

The final issue!! I’m so upset. I know that these digital books never last that long so I expected that the ax would be falling on Sensation Comics soon, but I love this book! It’s Wonder Woman’s only decent regular showcase, and so many great stories have come out of it. I’m glad to see that Trina Robbins is writing the final installment. She’ll bring it, for sure, and end the book with a bang.

Now we move to some non-Wonder Woman books that feature her prominently, starting with Harley’s Little Black Book #1:

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HARLEY’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK #1
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by AMANDA CONNER and a bunch of people who owe her favors
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
Variant covers by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+
It’s the sensational debut of a bimonthly, overstuffed, oversized team-up series in which Harley meets (and almost certainly annoys) the greatest heroes and villains of the DC Universe! First up? The incredible Wonder Woman! There’s a plot to assassinate Wondy, and Harley is convinced that only she could possibly stop it! (Hey, you want to tell her about all the other options? We tried.)

Harley Quinn’s got a new series and Wonder Woman is the first guest star! I don’t love them putting Wonder Woman in a tiny outfit on the cover, but the inside of the book will probably be fun. Harley Quinn is an odd but enjoyable book, and I’m sure this new title will carry on in the same vein. And Amanda Conner drawing Wonder Woman could be a good time.

Wonder Woman’s front and center on Justice League #47 as well:

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JUSTICE LEAGUE #47
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JASON FABOK
Variant covers by JIM LEE
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Super-star artist Jason Fabok returns as the second act of “DARKSEID WAR” begins! As the members of the Justice League struggle with their new Godhood abilities, Wonder Woman must turn to the beings that have fought the Anti-Monitor before: the Crime Syndicate! Plus, what secret does Grail hold that will change Diana’s world forever?

The Anti-Monitor is in this? I haven’t been following “Darkseid War” at all, though I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s collected because I really like how Jason Fabok draws Wonder Woman. Plus, Fourth World stuff is usually pretty fun. Isn’t Batman now Metron or something? The occasional tidbits I hear about this storyline always sound super weird, but sort of intriguingly so.

Finally, Donna Troy is stopping by to visit Titans Hunt #3:

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TITANS HUNT #3
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by PAOLO SIQUEIRA
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 12, $3.99 US RATED T
Haunted by a past they no longer recognize, Dick Grayson and Roy Harper hunt for the truth. Somehow, somewhere, there must be someone who can explain the memories that obsess them but don’t belong to them. Their search has unleashed the rage of Atlantis, but that’s nothing compared to the fury of the Amazonian outcast waiting for them in the shadows.

I’m not 100% on what the premise of this book is. Is it that the New 52 versions of the old Teen Titans are being haunted by memories of themselves in the old universe, or are the old universe Teen Titans back somehow? Whatever the case, Donna Troy’s in this one, wearing her rad new costume. And it sounds like she’s going to be angry because Amazons are always angry these days. Man, Yanick Paquette’s having a busy month!

Look for all of these titles this December in comics shops and online! Or ask Santa to bring them to you.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #37 Review: “Echidna, Part 2” by Caitlin Kittredge and Scott Hampton

June 4, 2015

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I enjoyed the first part of “Echidna” last week, and the finale this week turned out to be even more fun. The grim, grittiness of the first installment did an excellent job establishing the setting and the tone of the story, and while this issue continued in that vein there was also some comic relief added to the mix. I like a good moody tale, but a little levity is always welcome. One-note comics get old after a while.

It feels like Caitlin Kittredge had an absolute blast writing this comic. Last week’s issue was creepy and cool, but this issue was fun and occasionally over the top, in good ways. Looking back, the two issues feel like night and day in a lot of respects, and yet they absolutely work together as a whole. It’s a very well constructed storyline.

I’m always a little wary of guest stars in Sensation Comics, because they tend to overshadow Wonder Woman and take away her page time, but Kittredge finds a good balance here. While she introduced Batgirl at the end of part one, she uses her only sparingly here, keeping the focus on Wonder Woman and her efforts to rescue the monstrous children. Kittredge also brings in some charismatic villains, Harley Quinn and Professor Pyg, but again they don’t take over the book. Wonder Woman punching out Professor Pyg because she’s sick of listening to his ridiculousness is a particularly nice moment.

Harley Quinn is inherently a scene stealer, and her pages shine. Kittredge does a fantastic job writing her, and I was glad to see that Scott Hampton went with the classic costume. I didn’t realized how much I missed that classic costume until I noticed how right it felt to read the jokes coming out of that costume. The New 52 Harley Quinn was a mess for a while, and Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have done a solid job of bringing back more of her iconic characterization, but you can’t beat that classic costume. It’s just not Harley Quinn to me without out. Anyway, Harley steals the spotlight a little bit, I suppose, but that’s what Harley Quinn does. And Wonder Woman handles her with great aplomb.

Hampton set up the creepy vibe of Gotham’s monstrous underbelly beautifully last week, and he continues that tone with more brightness and fun here, matching the changes in the story well. His Harley Quinn is great, bouncy and amusing with just the right hint of darkness, and I really liked his Professor Pyg, particularly his use of shadows with the mask. Even his Wonder Woman is growing on me. I was a bit critical of her depiction last week, but Hampton makes her less flat and more dynamic here. I think my increased enjoyment of his Wonder Woman is partly just adjusting to Hampton’s style and partly a few smart tweaks he made with this issue.

All together, “Echidna” was a very good installment of Sensation Comics. It was nice to have something different, both in tone and style, and the story really took advantage of the series’ mandate to tell Wonder Woman stories in any sort of continuity and style. There aren’t a lot of other places you do this story except for Sensation Comics, and I continue to be glad that it’s providing us with new and different Wonder Woman content each week. I still don’t know when this story will be printed. I double checked all of the Sensation Comics listings and this isn’t in it any of them, so it looks like it will be September at the earliest. Keep your eyes peeled for it, though. It’s a great read.

Wonder Woman Sales Rise In February, Probably For Reasons Other Than The Finches

March 18, 2015

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The comic book sales figures for February 2015 are out now, and Wonder Woman #39 had a decent month. After Wonder Woman #37 dropped 27% from the debut issue of Meredith and David Finch and Wonder Woman #38 fell an additional 8%, sales for Wonder Woman #39 actually rose to 42,634 copies sold, an increase of about 7%. This is a pretty sizeable jump, given how the book was trending, and I think that it had a lot more to do with what was on the outside of the book than what was in it.

Several of DC’s February comics had a Harley Quinn variant cover, and Harley Quinn is ridiculously popular right now. She’s in the middle of an impressive renaissance, with her own title selling gangbusters and a spin-off on the way. While at first glance it might seem like the Finches are catching on with readers and thus sales improved, I think that the Harley Quinn variant cover is a much larger factor, largely because sales went up for most of the titles who were part of the variant line.

Last time we checked the sales of Superman/Wonder Woman, it had dropped 6% and then 11% since the new creative team took over in November. In February, sales of Superman/Wonder Woman #16 rose to 38,550, an increase of 4%. That’s a big jump for a book that was on a steady decline.

Superman/Wonder Woman #16 also had a Harley Quinn variant cover. In fact, when you look at all of the other DC titles in the same range of the sales charts as Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, they all sold a few thousand more issues in February and they all had Harley Quinn variant covers too. It’s a very consistent trend, with Harley as the only common denominator for all of the titles.

Sales jumps for both Wonder Woman books due to outside factors makes it hard to ascertain how the titles are going over with readers. Both books were declining, but the February numbers are just a big question mark because we can’t know how big an impact the variant covers had. We’ll have to wait for the March numbers to see where things stand; the movie themed variants DC is putting out this month look cool, but I doubt they’ll have the impact of Harley Quinn and so we’ll likely get more accurate numbers for March’s comics. The only conclusive fact we can pull out of the February numbers is that folks sure do love Harley Quinn.

A Closer Look At The Many Female Creators And Characters In DC Comics’ New Line Up

February 6, 2015

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DC Comics made a big announcement today, revealing the post-“Convergence” line up for their main superhero titles. Along with 29 continuing titles, DC unveiled 24 new series and minis, many of which featured new creators and a variety of new and underutilized characters. It was a good day for women at DC across the board as well. Here’s what coming for women, real and fictional, among DC’s new books:

  • Corin Howell is drawing Bat-Mite.
  • Black Canary is getting her own series…
  • … and Annie Wu is the artist on Black Canary
  • … along with Irene Koh.
  • Ming Doyle is co-writing Constantine: The Hellblazer
  • … and Ming Doyle is also drawing Dark Universe.
  • There’s a new Harley Quinn and Power Girl team-up book…
  • … and Harley Quinn/Power Girl is co-written by Amanda Conner.
  • Alisa Kwitney is writing Mystic U.
  • It looks like the new Prez has a young female lead character.
  • Starfire has a new book…
  • … and Amanda Conner is co-writing Starfire too…
  • … and Emanuela Lupacchino is drawing Starfire.
  • There are some female characters involved in some new team books, too, including at least a couple in We Are Robin.

So all of that should be a lot of fun. Several other female-led series are continuing as well, including Batgirl, Catwoman, Gotham Academy, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman. Returning female creators include Amanda Conner, Babs Tarr, Becky Cloonan, Gail Simone, Genevieve Valentine, and Meredith Finch. Yes, in sad news for Wonder Woman fans, it looks like Meredith and David Finch will continue on the title in June. But apart from that, it’s a lot of good news.

All together, there are 13 different female creators set to work on DC’s superhero line up in June. By the numbers, that’s not a big change from March, the last pre-“Convergence” month, where there were 12 different female creators, but March was a very busy month for DC. By percentage, female creators account for 14.7% of all of the credits in the June titles, a decent increase from only 9% in March.

In terms of female-led titles, not counting mixed team books there are 9 different female-led titles scheduled for June while there were only 7 female led titles in March. Some beloved characters won’t be back in June, including Batwoman and Supergirl, but there are a lot of new ones taking their place.

Overall, these changes aren’t massive, but that’s largely because DC’s done a good job increasing their female representation over the past year or so. We should keep in mind that back when DC launched the New 52 in 2011, there were only 2 different female creators for their entire superhero line, and now there are 13. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but things are definitely trending upward. Similarly, with female characters, it’s great to see more of them in the spotlight, but there’s also a deep roster of female characters on the bench that DC could do something with in the future. Things are going well, but there’s lots of space for DC to grow further with both real and fictional women.

Check Out The Wonder Woman Covers For February’s Harley Quinn Variant Month

November 14, 2014

In what is a rather smart move to capitalize on the popularity of one of their most successful characters, DC Comics has announced their next variant cover theme: Harley Quinn. The covers will debut in February, and both New 52 Wonder Woman series will be part of the line. With some excellent artists, too!

First up, Phil Jimenez has drawn the variant cover for Wonder Woman #39, with Hi-Fi on colours. Let’s take a look, courtesy of Newsarama:

harley1

Jimenez is beloved by the Wonder Woman fan community for his excellent run on the book years back, and it’s always fun to have him return to the character. This cover is a good laugh, with Harley besting Diana to become the new Wonder Woman with the help of her comically over-sized hammer. It’s very cute.

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #16, by Francis Manapul, courtesy of Comic Book Resources:

harley2

I love Manapul’s art, and this cover is just lovely. Somehow, the Superman/Wonder Woman variants we’ve seen over the past year from a variety of great artists sell me on their relationship more than the comics inside ever have. Manapul’s captured something very nice here, with Harley coming along to spoil the party, as always. This is a great one too!

Finally, just for the fun of it, former Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang has done a variant cover for Batgirl #39, and it’s fantastic. I miss you so much, Cliff!!

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He’s just the best.

Look for all of these variants this February, and as always with variants it’s probably best to talk to your local comic shop ahead of time and get them to set one aside for you if there are any you’re keen on. They tend to go pretty quick.


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