A Poison Ivy #6 Micro-Review – Billions Selling Band-Aids

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Poison Ivy 6, cover, 2022, Jessica FongTITLE: Poison Ivy #6
AUTHOR: G. Willow Wilson
ARTISTS:
Marcio Takara, Brian Level, Jay Leisten (Co-Inker), Arif Prianto (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Cover by Jessica Fong.

RELEASED: November 1, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“This planet is too far gone to save, Pamela. It needs a revolution, but all it wants is a Band-Aid. So we might as well make billions selling Band-Aids.”

That’s a little dialogue from Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man. Somehow it’s both insightful and villainous.

Actually, there are few great quotes like that in this issue. It’s one of Wilson’s strongest. She’s mindset she’s giving Ivy is very right for the character: That if heroes can’t bring Earth back from the brink of ecological doom, then perhaps a villain can…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Poison Ivy #5 Micro-Review – Evil Groot?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Poison Ivy 5, cover, 2022, Jessica FongTITLE: Poison Ivy #5
AUTHOR: G. Willow Wilson
ARTISTS:
Marcio Takara, Brian Level, Stefano Gaudiano (Co-Inker), Arif Priano (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer). Cover by Jessica Fong.

RELEASED: October 4, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I promise, the villain in this issue isn’t evil Groot. Even though from the cover it kind of looks like an evil version of Groot. (It’s actually Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man.)

In all seriousness, this issue largely feels like an abuse victim (Ivy) going back and confronting her abuser (Woodrue) after many years. It’s empowering for Ivy in that sense, albeit also very…floral?

Takara’s and Prianto’s art still has that sensual quality too it, even in a story without any sensuality in it. It’s as good a fit for Poison Ivy as any art I’ve ever seen.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Poison Ivy #4 Micro-Review – Ivy Goes to Amazon

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Poison Ivy 4, cover, 2022, Jessica FongTITLE: Poison Ivy #4
AUTHOR: G. Willow Wilson
ARTISTS:
Marcio Takara, Arif Prianto (Colors), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Cover by Jessica Fong.
RELEASED:
September 6, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

That understated sexiness and sensuality is still present in this issue. But at one point, things turn a corner and get monstrous and scary. It was to the point where I wondered if some of Scarecrow’s fear gas had worked its way into the story. That versatility is a credit to the talent of Marcio Takara.

Ivy gets a job at Amazon in this issue. They don’t call it Amazon. But it’s Amazon, right down to the “workers pee in a bottle” references.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Poison Ivy and Baby Groot by Oliver Wetter

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I got myself a little education this week.

I was looking for Baby Groot art yesterday. My three-year-old is into the new I Am Groot shorts on Disney+. So the little guy has been in our house a lot in the past several days. So I was in a Groot mood.

I happened across this piece by Oliver Wetter, which puts Marvel’s Baby Groot together with DC’s Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy, Baby Groot, Oliver Wetter

Pretty awesome, right?

Then I looked at the caption, which noted the piece was a tribute to Gil Elvgren. I had no idea who that was. So naturally, I googled it. Turns out Elvgren is one of the best, if not the best, pin-up artists of the 20th century. His name brings up all kinds of sexy art. But this next piece, titled “Daisies Are Telling (Love Me, Love Me Not)” is the one Wetter based his Poison Ivy/Groot image on…

Gil Elvgren, Daisies Are Telling

So I got me a nice little pin-up art education with this one. Thanks Mr. Wetter. And perhaps more importantly, thank you Mr. Elvgren!

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Poison Ivy #3 Micro-Review – Understated Sexiness

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Poison Ivy 3, cover, 2022, Jessica FongTITLE: Poison Ivy #3
AUTHOR: G. Willow Wilson
ARTISTS:
Marcio Takara, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer). Cover by Jessica Fong.
RELEASED:
August 2, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

There’s a great sensual quality to the art in Poison Ivy that’s obviously very appropriate for the character. It’s got a mostly understated sexiness to it. In this case understated is a good thing, considering how far in the other direction some artists can take a character like Ivy.

There’s a page in here where Wilson writes Ivy’s take on hope and faith that I found really interesting and insightful. Interesting topics to touch on, considering this is a story where she’s trying to kill all of humanity…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Batman #115 Micro-Review – Batgirls Begin

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Batman 115, variant cover, Arist Deyen, Jorge MolinaBy Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman #115
AUTHORS: James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad
ARTISTS: Bengal, Jorge Jimenez, Jorge Corona, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Sarah Stern, Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Becca Carey (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 19, 2021

The meat of this story is still good. The stuff with Batman, Simon Saint, the Scarecrow, etc. But this stuff with Poison Ivy, Miracle Molly, and what not? Gettin’ a little long in the tooth for me. Still, at least these last couple issues have been light on Harley Quinn…

Another upside? The back-up feature has shifted to a prelude for the upcoming Batgirls series with Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain. It’s got an interesting pseudo Birds of Prey vibe.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman, Bendis’ Superman Finale, Spider-Man, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #16
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Mirka Andolfo.
RELEASED: December 18, 2020

This issue and issue #15 are weird in that they essentially repeat a story from the New Batman Adventures episode “Double Talk.” Arnold Wesker, the Ventriloquist, tries to reform and ultimately fails. That’s a really strange thing to have happen, as these guys obviously worked on the old shows as well…

This story seems primarily like an excuse to put Harley and Ivy together. On the upside, we get a cool villain Christmas party at the Iceberg Lounge with plenty of cameos. Including, oddly enough, a panel where Captain Boomerang and Roxy Rocket are making out.

TITLE: Superman #28
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Kael Ngu.
RELEASED: December 15, 2020

I’d love to know when Bendis’ run on the Superman books was originally supposed to end. Or if they even had an endpoint in mind. In the grand scheme of things, this feels like a fairly abrupt finale. But at the end of the day, Bendis did right by Superman. That’s more than a lot of writers can say. I respect him that much more for that.

Reis and the artistic team did too. There’s a beautiful panel in here of Lois looking lovingly at her husband. Amongst all the space alien grandeur in this issue, it’s an unlikely highlight.

TITLE: Power Rangers #2
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Matteo Scalera & Moreno Dinisio.
RELEASED: December 16, 2020

A neat issue, conceptually. Jason, Zack, and Trini against a bunch of space vampires. But this series is having trouble holding my attention even earlier than I anticipated. The foundations of a good book are there, but I think Power Rangers needs a stronger hook. Here’s hoping this book can up its game in a big way soon.

There’s a pretty cool splash page early in this issue. It’s just Jason posing with a sword. But between the pose, the framing, and the lighting, it’s got an epic feel to it that works really well.

TITLE: Spider-Man #5 (of 5)
AUTHORS: J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams
ARTISTS: Sara Pichelli, Elizabetta D’Amico (Inking Assisant), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Olivier Coipel & Stewart.
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

This story was compelling enough, and the premise was enjoyable. Plus, Sara Pichelli was apparently born to draw Spider-Man. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: The presence of the Iron Man characters took away from Ben Parker’s journey as Spider-Man. Especially here in this final issue. This was supposed to be a family story about Peter Parker, his son, and the passing of the proverbial Spider-Man torch. Instead, the waters got a little too muddied.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Jodi Nishijima, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

Just when I think these TMNT issues can’t add any more depth, we get a story about a fight breaking out during an “I used to be a  human, but now I’m a mutant” support group meeting. Love it.

To help differentiate between the Turtles without their multi-colored bandanas, Ronda Pattison is giving them different skin tones. The IDW Turtles have had different skin tones since issue #1. But note they aren’t given such tones on this otherwise pretty cool cover.

TITLE: Star Wars #9
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jan Bazaldua, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, & Rain Beredo.
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

You’d think a story about Lando and friends trying to break into a museum on Coruscant would be a lot more fun than this. But somehow this issue managed to bore me with it.

I’ve been on the brink of dropping this Star Wars title for a long time. This might have been the issue to push me over the edge. There’s a certain fun, a certain spark, that’s missing here.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #11
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Variant cover by Jeremy Roberts.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

I’m not a Harley Quinn mark the way a lot of people are. But even I’ve got to admit: That’s an awesome cover.

In hindsight, this series was better than it had any right to be. As expected, Taylor leaves the door open to work more with the characters he created in Suicide Squad. He and Redondo are about to start a run on Nightwing. So I expect we might see them there.

In the end, this may go down as one of the more underrated runs Suicide Squad has ever seen.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #14
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Max Raynor, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Cover by David Marquez & Sanchez.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

“I’m calling for my Bat-spaceship to come get us.”

*cringe* That feels like a line out of a post-Wertham comic in the ’50s.

Still, while this story looks uninspired on the surface, it manages to be a decent amount of fun in its execution. A fairly interesting take on the composite Superman/Batman concept, with some fun art by Max Raynor and beautiful coloring by Alejandro Sanchez. I’ve seen much better. But in all fairness, it could have been much worse.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Rick Celis’ Batman Pulp Covers

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The spiritual successors to Batman and other comic book superheroes were the heroes found in the pulp magazines of the early 20th century. You can actually trace some of Batman’s roots back to them, and characters like Doc Savage and the Shadow.

So it’s more than fitting that Rick Celis (who has been in this space before) lend his artistic style, which borrows from Batman: The Animated Series to pay tribute to the genre…

My personal favorite? The Black Mask cover. We never saw Black Mask in the series. But to see his rivalry with Catwoman renewed in this format is really cool. Plus, it’s a really memorable cover.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Gotham City Sirens: Division Retro Review – Gotham City Stumble

***Retro Reviews are pieces of Primary Ignition‘s past (i.e. the old site) dug from the archives and returned to their rightful place. They’ve been minimally altered. The text has been cleaned up just a little, and I’ve updated the artistic credits to go beyond just the penciller. But this is mostly the content in its original form. At the end, I’ll throw in a bit of hindsight.***

TITLE: Gotham City Sirens: Division

AUTHOR: Peter Calloway
ARTISTS: Andres Guinaldo, Ramon Bachs. Cover by Guillem March.
INKERS: Lorenzo Ruggiero, Bachs,
COLORISTS: JD Smith
LETTERERS: Steve Wands, Dave Sharpe, Carlos M.Mangual, Travis Lanham, Raul Fernandez.
COLLECTS: Gotham City Sirens #2021, #2326
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: March 7, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Kenosha Kicker. Polka! Polka! Polka!

Reading all 26 issues of Gotham City Sirens is kind of like dating a woman who’s really hot, but who you eventually realize has a lot of personality issues. Eventually you find yourself wondering whether the whole relationship was even worth it at all.

The final volume of this series sees Harley Quinn bound and determined to kill the Joker. She breaks into Arkham Asylum, causing a massive riot. Caught in the mix are Black Mask, Clayface, our Sirens, and even Batman/Bruce Wayne himself (“Anything involving The Joker I take care of personally.”) Amidst the chaos, Harley, Catwoman and Poison Ivy will be placed at odds. Allegiances are tested, and friendships may be broken beyond repair.

I have two major issues with this book, both of which I touched on in my review of the previous volume: The way Joker is drawn and the way Harley is written.

The problem with Guinaldo’s Joker is that it’s trying to mix the look of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight with what Grant Morrison did during his run on Batman. In all fairness, after Morrison’s run DC never came up with a definitive look for the Joker to match the events of those stories. As such, creators working on different books didn’t necessarily know how to portray him. As a result, we usually got something along the lines of the traditional Joker with a bullet-shaped scar in the middle of his forehead (shown above).

The Joker we get in Division looks, quite frankly, like a pasty-faced geezer with some smeared lipstick on his cheeks. Though Guinaldo does supply us with a pretty good manic Joker face every so often, this take on the character isn’t nearly as maniacally menacing as it should be. For yours truly this became a big annoyance as the story went on.

And then there’s Harley. This story takes her to a pretty grim, dark place, especially in the beginning. She’s got a lot of rage directed at the Joker, and as a result we get a lot of inner monologue that seems out of character to me…

“There’s a place. A place in my head. A place on the other side of happy-go-lucky. The one part of me that isn’t looking for the joke. In that dark place–lurks rage…when the laughter breaks down–and humor can’t quiet its hunger–the rage gets out. And then it runs the show.”

I reject this portrayal of Harley not because of principle, but execution. We’ve seen her get angry before. It’s to be expected from a crazy lady who loves a homicidal clown and commits crimes while dressed like a Commedia dell’arte character.

But in Division, Harley becomes a cold, calculated strategist and murderer. We get inside her head and follow her thought process as she systematically breaks into Arkham. This portrayal robs the character of some of her charm. We’re not supposed to be able to follow Harley’s mindset when she does these things. She’s insane. Is she, deep down, a good person who could potentially be saved? Yes. But her infatuation with the Joker has also placed her on a different plane of reality than the rest of us. The reason she can be so goofy, so sick and twisted, with such drastic emotional swerves, is that she’s not playing with the same deck the rest of us are. This book defies that notion by simply making Harley an overly emotional, hopelessly attached girlfriend in a clown suit. She looks sane.

And as we all know, this chick ain’t sane.

The book does have its moments, though. We spend a little time with Aaron Cash, the asylum’s head of security whom we met in the Arkham Asylum video game. We’re with him when he learns about The Joker’s role in the death of his infant son, which is simply haunting. The Arkham Asylum riot is given the right amount of weight by Calloway. He doesn’t play it off like an every day occurrence the way some writers do. There’s a nice aura of panic about it.

Gotham City Sirens started out on such a high note. Unfortunately the memory of how good the series was during that first seven months or so never stopped haunting it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hoping for this series to be something of an action/comedy, akin to what we sometimes saw in Batman: The Animated Series and Gotham Girls. No such luck. In the end, Gotham City Sirens was just like every other Batman book on the stands. And what’s the point of putting this oddball trio together if you’re not going to have some fun with it?

At one point in this book, Harley asks Ivy: “Did the three of us make sense as a team? Ever?” (shown above)

The answer is no. But that was where all the fun should have come from.

***In Hindsight***
I wish I could say my opinion had changed on this one. Paul Dini wrote a total of 10 issues, which are collected in the first and second volumes. If you want to check out this series, those are the books you need to read.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit Retro Review – Hate that Joker!

***Retro Reviews are pieces of Primary Ignition‘s past (i.e. the old site) dug from the archives and returned to their rightful place. They’ve been minimally altered. The text has been cleaned up just a little, and I’ve updated the artistic credits to go beyond just the penciller. But this is mostly the content in its original form. At the end, I’ll throw in a bit of hindsight.***

TITLE: Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit
AUTHORS: Tony Bedard, Peter Calloway
ARTISTS: Andres Guinaldo, Jeremy Haun, Guillem March
INKERS: Lorenzo Luggiero, BIT, Walden Wong
COLORISTS: JD Smith, Tomeu Morey
LETTERER: Steve Wands, Travis Lanham, Dave Sharpe
COLLECTS: Gotham City Sirens #1419
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASED: August 16, 2011

By Rob Siebert
The same Rob from up top.

It was somewhere during this story that I gave up on Gotham City Sirens ever being the book I wanted it to be. As it started out as a title written by Paul Dini, I was hoping we’d get something more light-hearted, akin to the work Dini did with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy on Batman: The Animated Series. Over the first several issues, we did get that. But it tapered off as different writers started to come on to the book.

Strange Fruit is fairly low on humor, and it’s the first trade in the series without Dini’s name on it, but a high-stakes storyline keeps the title from taking a steep plunge in quality.

The first two issues continue the story that was started in the last book. It’s about Poison Ivy helping an alien or something. In all honesty, my distaste for a random alien appearance in a Bat-book pretty much took me out of the story. It’s not terrible. But I wasn’t a fan.

We then move into a story in which Talia al Ghul and Zatanna are trying to stop a group of bad guys from targeting Catwoman so they can learn Batman’s true identity. What further complicates things is that Catwoman lied to Harley and Ivy, telling them she didn’t know his identity. Trust issues galore can be found in this story, which will lead to Harley making a VERY dramatic decision.

Something’s been nagging at me about Gotham City Sirens for awhile, and it traces back to the events of this book. The way Andres Guinaldo draws the Joker (see below) irritates me terribly. We only see him through sporadic flashbacks, but I’m consistently bothered with the way Guinaldo puts those Dark Knight-ish red etches at the corners of his mouth. He’s not the first artist to do it, but the way he does it is really distracting. They’re much too big. It looks like he’s smeared lipstick on his cheeks. I understand part of it is just Guinaldo’s style. But The Joker’s Dark Knight look doesn’t lend itself to that style.

The story with Zatanna and Talia isn’t the strongest I’ve ever seen, but it’s good. Both have been romantically linked to Bruce Wayne in the past, and those connections make for interesting storytelling. Selina and Zatanna also have a history, which adds to the fire.

While there are a few Harley Quinn moments that harken back to the tone the series started with, the book sets more of a traditional tone, which essentially makes it just like all the other Bat-books, which means it loses a huge part of its selling point. At least for me. I’m certainly not heartbroken this series won’t be part of the New 52 reboot.

***In Hindsight***
My mind about Andres Guinaldo’s Joker has not changed. Thankfully, that trend has died down in the years since.

At the time, I gave this book a 6/10. Upon re-reading, that feels about right. I liked that they played with Selina’s knowledge of Bruce’s identity. Though ironically this was post-Final Crisis, and the Batman we see in this book is Dick Grayson.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.