Review: Gail Simone’s The Movement and the Importance of Point of View

Where Did Gail Simones The Movement Go Wrong

The Movement is a book I badly wanted to love.  One of the few truly new ideas to emerge from the New 52, it had pretty much everything I look for in a monthly comic, at least on the surface.  It had a fantastic premise – superpowered teens fight corruption and wage class warfare – that was extraordinarily relevant to modern society, a diverse cast filled with mostly new characters, and a dedication to building a strong sense of place in Coral City.  But The Movement has failed to connect with readers (myself included) in a way that’s rare for writer Gail Simone’s work.  Where did it go so wrong?  Continue reading

Review – Batgirl: Knightfall Descends

Gail Simone has long been one of DC’s best writers, but her New 52 Batgirl run has been troubled at best. While Batgirl: Knightfall Descends remains deeply flawed, it is nevertheless a huge step in the right direction for the troubled title.


If there was one person who could save the idea of ‘Babs as Batgirl’, it was Gail Simone. Gail had years of experience writing Barbara Gordon, more experience than virtually any other comic writer still regularly working today. She was extremely familiar with the Gotham City crew, and she’d been writing dark action comics for years. Gail Simone was the perfect choice for the New 52 iteration of Batgirl. But her run has been divisive at best, though perhaps with the way DC treated fans of Steph and Cass that was always bound to happen, and reviews have generally been tepid.

So, where did it go wrong?

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Review – Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection

Gail Simone’s Batgirl fails to make a case for Barbara Gordon’s return in “The Darkest Reflection”, a story with some promising ideas and solid art but not much heart. For a more in depth review, read on…

Babs is only Batgirl in the darkest timeline. If Jeff Winger had gone for the pizza, Steph, Cass and Babs would be sharing the lead in a title called “Batgirls”. I’m not sure how that timeline plays out, but I’m working on it, don’t worry.

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What to Expect: Week 1 of the Relaunch

While lebeau continues to give you a fantastic title-by-title breakdown of the upcoming relaunch, I’m going to take a slightly different take on things.    With the full solicits revealed, release dates included, we now have a slightly better idea of what to expect come September.  So I’m going to break down the solicits by release date, talk a little bit about what I’m going to get – and what I’m going to skip – and why, so you’ll have an idea of what some of the books that will definitely see coverage here will be… and which of your favorites you can heartily mock me for skipping.

So, with that brief introduction, on to week one of the solicits, otherwise known as… September 7th.

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Review: Secret Six #30


Gail Simone’s Secret Six gets a lot of positive press on this site, and with good reason – while it shares a lot in common with most superhero titles, the book’s combination of character-based storytelling and dark humor makes it unlike any other comic being put out by the Big 2. In a market where most books distinguish themselves with overblown events and pronouncements that ‘nothing will ever be the same again’, Secret Six is a book you can count on to distinguish itself with top shelf writing and an art team that knows how to translate the ideas perfectly to the page.

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Review: Secret Six #20

If you aren’t reading Secret Six, you are missing out on a treat.  No, scratch that – if you aren’t reading Secret Six, you are missing out on one of the best comic books on the shelves. Very, very few arcs epitomize why more so than the current one, titled “Cats in the Cradle.”  Secret Six #20 still lacks art from Nicola Scott, but new artist J. Calafiore has proved an extremely able replacement, deftly building tension between the over-the-top action scenes and the moments of extraordinarily dark comedy.

Last issue ended on a brilliant cliffhanger – Catman’s son is kidnapped, and the boy will be allowed to live 1 year for every teammate Catman murders in the next 5 minutes – and the resolution of that moment this issue is one of the highlights of Simone’s run.  Catman has always been one of the more measured members of the team, likely to be taken by his temper to do stupid things, but at heart, at least, he was probably the best of the bunch.  This arc isn’t designed to destroy or reinforce that, but to highlight the side of his personality that puts him on the Secret Six, rather than making him yet another hardcore anti-hero… and it works.  Fabulously.  Secret Six #20 is a brutally violent character-driven action book like nothing else out today.  Read it.

Grade: A

– Cal Cleary


Simone Off Wonder Woman

While Simone’s run on Wonder Woman has been slightly flawed, it’s also been a consistently fun, creative book during a time when DC seems more dedicated to aping Marvel than anything else.  Simone’s run, which fulfilled the difficult creative task in comics of maintaining its momentum throughout, will most certainly be missed in these parts.

Her last issue is coming up soon: #44, the issue before the title reverts to its original numbering.  And while its sad to note that Simone won’t continue shepherding the book into the future, she did, all in all, a simply wonderful job.

The full story, along with information about Simone’s upcoming Birds of Prey relaunch, can be found at DC’s home blog, The Source.

– Cal Cleary

Review: Wonder Woman #40 & Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 (of 3)

Wonder Woman #40

Simone and Lopresti start their new arc, “The Crows”, with #40.  Featuring the Amazonian children fathered by Ares, Simone does a fine job setting up a new and fascinating conflict for Diana.  Much like all the best issues of Rucka’s run, Simone presents the heroine with a new kind of challenge: public relations.  Of course, there it was because Wonder Woman released a particularly incendiary book, while here, it’s the Crows’ supernatural influence to spread the seeds of war, but the fundamentals remain the same.

Lopresti remains an impressive talent, and he’s given the Crows a suitably creepy feel.  For a character so dedicated to spreading hope, love and tolerance as Wonder Woman, the Crows are a natural enemy, and one I hope Simone does not abandon lightly.  Coming fresh of the heels of a few excellent arcs, however, I think it’s safe to say that she’s earned our trust on the book.  The set-up here is more exciting than some of her recent arcs on the book, and it combines Simone’s excellent characterization with a quicker pace and some fun new enemies.  Definitely a winner.

Grade: B+

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 (of 3)

Ah, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman.  You started so strong, a stellar display of a fine heroine confronting her past in a sensible, exciting manner.  But the more ties you had to the main Blackest Night mini… well, here you end.  Blackest Night: Wonder Woman is less a story than a series of three largely unconnected one-shots intended to fill in the questions the main mini never touched on.  If you very, very desperately need to know what Wonder Woman is doing between the panels of Blackest Night (the answer: fighting Black Lanterns), the mini is for you.  Otherwise, however, it largely squanders a pair of great talents on a middling-at-best issue with no real reason to exist.

Scott still turns in exciting, gorgeous work, though even she has trouble making Wonder Woman’s Star Sapphire costume look right.  Despite Scott’s work and Rucka’s talent, however, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 remains a mundane, unnecessary tie-in, too bound by continuity to explore anything particularly fascinating but not nearly important enough to matter to the main narrative.

Grade: D+

– Cal Cleary


Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

Review: Secret Six #17

Beginning only moments after last week’s Suicide Squad #67 ended, Secret Six #17 is the second part of a three-part “Blackest Night” tie-in that follows a three-way conflict between Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, the Secret Six and the homicidal Black Lantern Suicide Squad.  The fight began last issue, and it gets complicated in this one – as Waller and Multiplex burn down the house of Secrets, Belle Reve turns into a bloodbath.  The Six and the Squad are too busy fighting each other to notice that the dead rise until it’s too late.  Simone and Ostrander pack the issue with quick, clever character moments in between fast-paced action segments that vary in style from a brutal martial arts battle between Bronze Tiger and Catman and a futile confrontation between Bane and the superpowered team of Count Vertigo and Nightshade.

Kudos go to colorist Jason Wright, who, alongside artist J. Calafiore, have crafted the most memorable and realistic images seen yet in Blackest Night‘s emotion-o-vision.  Seeing Deadshot on the ground, veins of powerful emotions surging up through cracks in his near-sociopathic emotional armor is a clever image that also fits with everything we know about the character.  Secret Six #17 ups the tension dramatically from the previous issue, maintaining a breakneck pace as it dashes towards next month’s conclusion.  Exciting, well-characterized and fun, it’s just another issue that suggests that Secret Six is one of the best books on the shelves today.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Suicide Squad #67

Secret Six #16

Review: Suicide Squad #67

The month of January will see the latest, and most ingenious, of DC’s “Blackest Night” cash-grabs as they go after that ever-elusive audience that absolutely despises what Big Event Mentality has done to an industry that can’t even approach affording it (so, uh, me) by reviving a selection of critically-beloved fan-favorite titles that were cancelled (or ended) some time ago.  This begins this week with Weird Western Tales #71 (which I will not be covering unless someone at DC wants to send me a free copy… please?) and Suicide Squad #67.  Co-written by John Ostrander and Gail Simone, Suicide Squad #67 has precious little to do with Blackest Night, and is all the better for it.

Instead, Ostrander and Simone use it to kick off a new Secret Six arc, featuring a three-way battle between the Suicide Squad, the Secret Six and the ‘Homicide Squad’, the Black Lantern members of each team, out for blood.  Though it seems like this could get chaotic and cluttered, especially given the size of each team and the B/C-list nature of its characters, but Simone and Ostrander handle it well, keeping things light and extraordinarily exciting, with the usual dark touch of humor.

Calafiore does excellent work on art, capturing the eerie intensity of the Black Lanterns and the easy violence of… well, every character in the book.  The book’s many action sequences are quick and exciting, and Calafiore does an excellent job setting up the pace and keeping the action moving.  It may not be important to the events of the main mini, but it is nonetheless a thoroughly satisfying tie-in, keeping things quick and trusting the audience to catch up.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary


Secret Six #16