From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No. 99: Where’s My #%@$ing Jet Pack!
Hey and welcome back readers to your casa de all-ages titles, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Before we jump into reviews this week, be sure to join us next week as we hit a milestone with our 100th column, in which we have several guests from the industry writing about their favorite titles (if you wanna know who they are, you’ll have to check back to see)! Also, this is column 99. When I hear 99, I can’t help thinking of 1999 (call it my age, maybe) and how we were promised flying cars, jet packs, and robotic maids. I haven’t received any of that. Well, we got an African American president at least, like all those future-shows and movies had, so I guess we’re on the right track, I just want my jet pack damn it. Anyway, it’s review time!
So DC comics is unleashing a few new digital-first titles, which will be released in weekly installments and collected later on as floppy issues. This Monday kicked things off with the first installment for their Ame-Comi Girls comic, which is part 1 of 3 of Ame-Comi: Wonder Woman. The series is based on the DC Collectables line of Ame-Comi Girls, which are Japanese manga inspired takes on the women of the DC Universe. However, aside from the non-stop action, the anime inspired look is much toned down in this book (probably for best as many attempts by Americans to emulate Japanese manga fail hard, unless you’re Ben Dunn, but even his early artwork isn’t anything amazing until he became a pro after years of drawing the stuff).
Ame-Comi: Wonder Woman #1 is your basic origin retelling. The US government has their eyes spying on the island nation of Themyscira, keeping close watch as the evil dictatorship-run nation of Kasnia prepares to invade it. Cut to the island where a young Diana, princess of the Amazons, is training in combat, until her mother Queen Hippolyta breaks it up, much to Diana’s dislike. That night, Kasnian military paratroopers armed to the teeth with guns, grenades, and rockets, swarm down on the island, only to meet a fierce battle from the Amazon women, who although are only armed with arrows and swords, are easily kicking the crap out of them. Diana finally sneaks out of the palace in her battle gear to join in on saving the day.
I felt the writing by Palmiotti and Gray was just fine, and they paced it with the digital-page first in mind, so it read perfect on the old e-reader. A retelling of this origin has been done before, so I know, how many times can we read a retelling of the same origins, right? In this case with Ame-Comi, I don’t mind. It’s disconnected from the main DCU, and it’s great for new readers and really aimed at a different demographic from who usually reads DC comics. I have the feeling Ame-Comi Girls will be the new Birds of Prey for folks, and by being solo from the DCU, let the creators do whatever they want in the title. Also, I think this re-origin is fine since it’s introducing a new world and a younger Wonder Woman (probably somewhere between 17 and 19). Amanda Conner’s art is great. As mentioned, although based off the Ame-Comi line, the art doesn’t attempt to rip off manga in anyway, and for the most part looks very much like any other American comic. So where’s the Ame-Comi aspect, you ask? Well, the costume designs are there for one thing. Also, it’s possible other artists may give it a more Japanese look further down in the other origin stories, before they throw our girls all together for the ongoing, which is what this is leading up to.
Ame-Comi: Wonder Woman is a great start for things, and it’s a title to keep your eye on. It’ll be followed by Batgirl, Duela Dent, Power Girl, and finally Supergirl, setting up all the characters’ origins before throwing them altogether for the ongoing Ame-Comi Girls. They will be available digital-first weekly from DC Comics on Comixology, and then collected for print later on!
Archie thus far has had a good year in comics this 2012! The Archie/Kiss Crossover was great (and apparently they’ll be facing off against Kiss again in the late fall), and right now we are in the middle of the “Archie Marries Valerie” story line, where one day after Valerie’s family moves to Riverdale, her and Archie rekindle their love. One day Valerie comes upon that great device, the street called Memory Lane, and walks up it, seeing a possible future where her and Archie get married.
Issue #633 continues to follow the married life of Archie and Valerie. After doing a reality show gig that finally let Archie and Valerie work together (giving them time away from their bands The Archies and Josie and The Pussy Cats), they announce they are going to open a music school together, quit their bands, and form their own musical-duo. This put shock waves through their bands and fans, as replacements are searched for, and Archie and Valerie try to put their new marriage first. Before we know it, Valerie is pregnant and we quickly jump to the birth of their baby girl, Star.
Archie dating Valerie was not as controversial as Archie’s gay character Kevin Keller, but like Keller, it is still an important sign of the times and proof Archie Comics is following through with their commitment to show what’s right and illustrate the many different life styles of families existing in America today. So where as this idea of black-and-white would have seemed taboo in the 1970s, here in 2012 it is very fitting and pleasing to finally see a tale like this. Archie marrying Valerie is a nice change from the story lines with Archie being married to Betty or married to Veronica. Since Valerie is in a mega-band, it seems Archie must’ve stepped up his game with The Archies, because they become just as big of stars in the music world, on this time line. The whole two lovers from two different bands angle gives the series a different edge and is pretty enjoyable.
The final part of “Archie Marries Valerie” comes out next month, so I’d pick up all the issues at once or get the collected version so you can read this in one pop. Also, here’s my fingers crossed that this tale will make it into the Life With Archie magazine, which has filled in the gaps and done amazing things with Archie’s other two marriages; I’d love to see how the world is with this one!
That’s it for this week! See you next for our big 100th column! Until then, get your kaiju-game on!