Tag Archives: David Lafuente

A Batgirl Annual #3 Review – Ladies Night

Batgirl Annual #3TITLE: Batgirl Annual #3
AUTHORS: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
PENCILLERS: Bengal, David Lafuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: July 29, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In my experience annuals are, by and large, nothing to get too excited about. More often they’re not, an annual is simply a bonus standalone issue of a series that’s a little longer, and a little more expensive. No more, no less.

Batgirl Annual #3 is a rare exception to that rule.

Penned by series writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher, the issue pairs Babs with a several different heroes as she works to uncover the secret of a superweapon with a power to destroy the world. The mystery willl reunite our hero with Dick Grayson (sort of) and Batwoman, as well as introduce her to The Spoiler, and later Olive and Maps of Gotham Academy.

Batgirl Annual #3As good comics are prone to doing, Batgirl Annual #3 switches artists to coincide with Batgirl switching partners. Bengal gets the lion’s share of the issue with our inciting incident, and Barbara’s run-in with Dick and the Spyral crew. Bengal’s European/Asian style is a nice fit for this version of Batgirl. It’s light and funny when it needs to be, and has a certain intensity when it’s called for. As for the story itself, Babs and Helena Bertinelli agree to work together in a manner so quick it’s unintentionally funny. It takes less than a page. You’d think someone as smart as Barbara Gordon would be a little more cynical about a new partner in the field. As for Dick and Barbara, their being so close, with the latter completely oblivious, is seemingly played for comedy at times. At one point their fingers are nearly touching, yet Batgirl can’t tell there’s another human being mere inches from her. Purely from a fan perspective, I was feeling Dick Grayson’s agony at deceiving her. So the comedy not only landed with a thud, but was out of place.

Bengal passes the baton to David Lafuente for Babs’ brief meeting with The Spoiler. As a huge fan of the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series, seeing Barbara and Steph at the same age is surreal. Still, I suppose they mesh well. Lafuente is certainly no stranger to drawing teenage superheroes (see Ultimate Comics Spider-Man), so I’ve got no issues with his work. Stewart and Fletcher also do Stephanie justice.

From a writing standpoint, the Batgirl/Batwoman team up is fine. But Ming Doyle’s art is, at times, very awkward. This is particularly true of her work on Barbara’s face, so much so it takes you out of the story. Her figure rendering, particularly during a battle scene, leaves something to be desired as well. Doyle has done some great work, but it won’t be found here.

Batgirl Annual #3, Mingjue ChenWe cap things off with what looks like something out of an old Disney 2D animated film. In this case, that’s a good thing. Minjue Helen Chen very much captures the spirit of Gotham Academy. Olive, Maps, and Batgirl hunt for answers in the school library in a sequence that’s very reminiscent of Harry Potter, Hogwarts, etc. Chen captures some of the manga vibe that Karl Kerschl brings to the monthly book, while adding her own sense of wonder and excitement. She’s tailor made for this “Youth Gotham” line DC is marketing.

┬áIt’s very much fitting that Batgirl Annual #3 is the exception to the annuals rule. For the past year, the series itself has been the exception to what were seemingly a lot of rules about the Bat-books. Gotham City can, and should, be a dark and scary place. But it should also be a fun place to read about, and lose yourself in. That’s the true appeal of Batgirl, and the Young Gotham line in general: DC remembering that comics can be fun.

Image 1 from the outhousers.com. Image 2 from newsarama.com.Image 3 from @mingjuechen.

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An Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 Review – A Disney Channel Hero

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1: The World According to Peter ParkerTITLE: Ultimate Comics Spider-man, Vol. 1: The World According To Peter Parker
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: David Lafuente
COLLECTS: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Last year, Marvel’s Ultimate line featured a massive crossover. In Ultimatum, Magneto attempted to destroy the Earth, New York City was hit with a massive flood, and numerous heroes were killed off. The Ultimate line was relaunched, presumably to once again draw in new readers.

Thus, Ultimate Spider-Man has become Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. And I’m not sure I’m happy about it.

When we open the book we find Peter Parker working at a fast food joint, Spider-Man is being hailed as a hero in New York City, displaced heroes like The Human Torch and Iceman (both teenagers) are showing up at the Parker house, plus Peter and Mary Jane Watson have broken up…again.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Aunt May and familyMeanwhile, Mysterio, one of the few Spidey villains Brian Michael Bendis didn’t reinvent during his first run, emerges for the first time in the Ultimate universe. Throw in a new mystery hero that actually makes Peter’s life a bit easier, and there’s plenty of fodder for storytelling.

Bendis, who wrote every issue of Ultimate Spider-man, continues his run with this book. He delivers his usual clumsy wit, mixed in with solid suspenseful storytelling. It’s been said that the great thing about the Ultimate version of Spidey is that so much of the drama comes from Peter Parker’s personal life, as well as his superhero adventures. That thread definitely continues in this book, as awkwardness unfolds between Peter, his ex-girlfriend Mary Jane, his OTHER ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde, and his CURRENT girlfriend. Did you get all that?

Aunt May, Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1David Lafuente’s art is solid, and fits the book well, But like Stuart Immonen (who did the art for the last several issues of Ultimate Spider-man), he’s in the unfortunate position of having to follow Mark Bagley’s stellar 111 issue run on the book. When I think of these characters, I still think of Bagley’s art. If Lafuente stays with the title for an extended period of time, fans will probably grow more comfortable looking at his version of this world. But for now, it feels like we’re still breaking him in.

Wall to wall, this book is decent, but the consistent presence of The Human Torch, Iceman, Kitty, and the others makes it feel at times like a Disney Channel show about superheroes. That makes me worried about the direction the title is headed in. Ultimate Spider-Man certainly had its share of team-ups, but now it’s looking like The Human Torch and Iceman will be sticking around for awhile. I’m concerned that the book is turning into Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Friends.

Marvel officially rates the book as T+, meaning it’s primarily aimed at teen readers. But Ultimate Spider-Man was a teen book too, and it didn’t need to be flooded with teen superheroes to make it interesting. I’d have preferred this Spider-Man book to have the burden of conflict placed solely on Spider-Man’s shoulders, especially since it represents the launching of a new title.

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from mattfraction.com. Image 2 from dreamwidth.org.

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