Wonder Woman Wednesday!

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Monday’s Mutant is Namorita!

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Monday’s Mutant is not actually a true mutant, but a clone.

Namorita Prentiss first appeared in June 1972 in Sub-Mariner #50. The first cousin of Namor the Sub-Mariner was Namora, a hybrid of Atlantean and Human origins, whose desire to have children was thwarted by her sterility. She decided to have a clone made of herself, the baby Namorita. The child grew up but did not know of her unnatural birth until after her mother’s death. Namorita then became a pawn in the politics of Atlantis. At times being used against her cousin the King.

Namor, realizing that Namorita’s innocent nature posed a risk, took her to the surface and to a friend to help raise the teenager. Betty Dean Prentiss became a second mother to Namorita. This would unfortunately lead to Prentiss’ death as well at the hands of the enemies of Namor.

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Namorita decided that she could no longer live in the shadow of her cousin the King and stepped out on her own. She became a founding member of the superhero group known as the New Warriors and for most of the comic book world drifted off to be a non-factor until the advent of Civil War.

The New Warriors decided that to up their exposure as a superhero team they needed to turn themselves into a reality television show. For the most part it was uneventful.  That is until the day they cornered a criminal group that contained the villain Nitro. To escape capture, Nitro created an explosion that ended up killing 612  civilians. This then led to the superhero registration act and the subsequent Civil War. The hero that was closest to the explosion was Namorita. Her remains were later retrieved and given a proper burial.

 

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Namorita had many of the same powers as her mother and Namor, increased strength and agility and the power of flight as well. She also had the ability to change her skin color. But for most of her run in Marvel she was basically the teenage, female Namor with all the brooding and the angst. So she never really caught on or developed much outside of the Sub-Mariner comics and as those began to decline in popularity so did she. Her time with the New Warriors did nothing for her or that whole team as well.

Which is unfortunate, Marvel’s Atlantean royal family could have been so much more that was ever developed. Something very much along the lines of the Inhumans. But for now, they are relegated to guest roles in other comics.

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Friday’s Femme Fatale – Barb Wire

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Friday’s Femme Fatale is Barb Wire, a comic book anti-hero created by Dark Horse in 1994. Barbara Kopetski, alias Barb Wire, is a bounty hunter working in the town of Steel Harbor, with many of her fugitives leading her into Arcadia. This run by Dark Horse was part of its Greatest Comics label that unfortunately didn’t quite catch on. But they were in fact really damn good books. It was a short run, only 9 books but Barb has made guest appearances and failed comebacks since then.

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Barb Wire has no superpowers at all. But she receives help from her brother Charlie who is blind but a mechanical genius. Armed to the teeth and sporting a leather bodysuit, Barb Wire wages her war on crime and escaped fugitives. Her alter ego, Barbara Kopetski is a stripper by trade.

Barb Wire’s other claim to fame is being made into a B-Movie starring Pamela Anderson and almost won the Razzie for worst picture of the year. Losing out to Striptease.

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Detective Comics Vol.5 – A Lonely Place of Living

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Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living by James Tynion IV is perhaps one of the best examples of why Tim Drake is a poor excuse to be Robin. Bitter, alienated and thinking his intelligence and hypocritical high moral ground somehow makes him better than the rest of the Batman family comes to bear here in full glory as the future Tim shows us Drake’s true colors.

After sacrificing himself to save Gotham which of course did not happen, Drake finds himself trapped in an inescapable prison where he is freed by none other than OZ (Superman’s father who did not die with Krypton after all) and returns to Gotham. But in the future where another Batman is in charge. A Batman who kills and whose bitterness is centered on an event in the past that changed the Batman family forever. This Batman believes he needs to go back to the past and kill the person he holds responsible for his actions today. This Batman is none other than Tim Drake.

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What follows is a fairly convoluted reasoning to commit murder. The old, if I kill Hitler as a child I am saving millions of lives mindset. Drake sells it well, at least to himself. What follows is a trip back to the past to face off against the Batman family by a member who knows them very well. In the end, Tim Drake is back home, with the Batman family, but he can never be the same. He has looked into the abyss and it has looked right back.

Okay maybe I am being too harsh but seriously, Tim Drake sucks. Even Jason Todd is a better Robin than Drake. By the way DC, you had a terrific opportunity to work on the Jason Todd character when you brought him back and to date you have sucked at it. He was a better bad guy than what he is right now.

Perhaps its that the regular Batman series with the upcoming Bat/Cat wedding is so much better than Detective Comics right now. Detective Comics under Tynion seems to focus heavily on the sidekicks but seems to forget…they’re sidekicks for a reason.

A Lonely Place of Living sets up future storylines I am sure but I cannot say I am thrilled with the direction this one is going.

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Black Widow, Volume 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Most Wanted

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Black Widow, Volume 1: S.H.I.E.L.D. Most Wanted by Mark Waid is the kind of Black Widow comic that should be made into a movie. This is what movie goers don’t understand about agent Romanova. The reality is that is has never been a true S.H.I.E.L.D. and her alliances should be questioned and perhaps feared.

Agent Romanova (also called Romanoff) has a history that has seen her working for and against S.H.I.E.L.D. on various occasions. In this installment she has gone rogue, seeking answers that the powers that be don’t want her to uncover. Now powers on both sides of the hidden cold war want her. Some secrets need to stay buried and to do so, they will have to bury the Black Widow as well.

Natasha has straddled that thin line between good and bad her entire marvel life. I first came into contact with her during her run as Daredevil’s love interest and partner and then when she became an Avenger I thought she lost some of her edge. Being Tony Stark’s girl Friday was never true to her character. The Marvel Movie Adaptation of this character has also to a point, sanitized this character.

The reality is that the Black Widow is a spy, an assassin, a killer without remorse. She uses all of her assets, including sex, to fulfill her mission. This is who the character is. A far more lethal James Bond than 007 could ever be.

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most wanted is a step in the right direction.

Throwback Thursday – Man-Bat

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My Throwback Thursday does not go that far back in time but it is a character that has been woefully underserved in modern comics and in DC movie Universe as well. In fact, the character had a fairly strong presence in the animated Batman series.

The character is Dr. Kirk Langstrom; The Manbat.

Dr. Langstrom was a Zoologist who specialized in the Chiropterology, the study of bats, who develops an extract that is intended to give human beings a bat’s sonar sense. He is hoping that it will become a cure for deafness, a malady he himself is beginning to succumb to. But the serum has a horrible side effect. It turned Langstrom into a man-sized bat, a vicious monster who terrorizes Gotham.

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The sightings of the Man-Bat initially fuel the hysteria behind the mystery of Batman himself and soon they become confused by the populace. Has the Batman gone violent and become a killer? Batman must not only capture the creature but find a way to reverse the effects of the serum.

But Langstrom cannot give up the serum and soon infects his own wife with it as well and together they become a force that is almost too much for Batman to handle. Eventually the duo is brought under control and except for a few minor sightings, the Man-Bat slips into a quiet memory.

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Man-Bat comes into being in Batman #400, in June of 1970, and the parallels between this character and the Lizard of Spider-man cannot be ignored. Both scientists, using the DNA of animals to cure a malady that they happen to have themselves with disastrous results. Even further back this is another tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The hubris of an intelligent man falling into the clutches of his visceral animal side.

 

Man-Bat should have been a major player in the Batman universe. The nightmare creature that should the Batman lose his way, the Batman could become himself. The Man-Bat serves to remind everyone of the importance, of Bruce Wayne.

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Batman, Volume 5: Rules of Engagement

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Batman, Volume 5: Rules of Engagement combines the incredible storytelling of Tom King with arguably the very best artist in the business; Joelle Jones. This is the lead in set of tales that lay the groundwork for the current big wedding in comic book world. The marriage between the Bat and the Cat.

A journey to the heart of darkness and facing Talia ah Ghul which results in a terrific sword fight between Talia and the Cat. Meeting the Bat family and more so, the Boy Scout. Does the Cat when everyone’s approval? Does she really care?

What has made this series so good is the subtle changes in the past series that have set up the Batman to be in this position. To be where he questions his own mortality and his own life. His sacrifice of any kind of true happiness in his quest to be the Bat. His denial of his own love life.

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Strangely it is not the Cat who goes continually to the Bat for redemption but the reverse. It is the Batman who comes to her. With her, he finds the sanctuary he is denied everywhere else.

Extremely well written with impeccable artwork. This very well maybe some of the best Batman stories that have ever been. It is surely the most human he has ever been.

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