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Nightwing, Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes by Kyle Higgins

It’s a long convoluted story how DC started over and relaunched 52 titles, this being one of them. I won’t claim to understand it. I was drawn to it because it was starting over, with issue number one, and going forward. I knew that Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had moved on to being Nightwing decades ago. I hadn’t read a title until now.

Title: Nightwing, Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes
Author: Kyle Higgins and illustrators
Series: Nightwing (2011)
Publish Date: October 1st, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: graphic novel, superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics – The New 52 event of September 2011, Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and artist Eddy Barrows (SUPERMAN)!

Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, makes a stop on its tour in Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery, and superhuman evil. To uncover more clues as to why a mysterious assassin is targetting him, Nightwing joins the circus’s tour. But as Dick becomes reacquainted with the big top he once called home, he learns there are darker secrets to be discovered.

Collects NIGHTWING #1-7.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This blew me away.  It was just that good.  It moves things forward in Dick’s life while taking a step back and looking at his past, where he came from, and those he left behind. It starts with a murder, and soon Dick finds that he has inherited the circus where his parents worked. While trying to figure out that murder, it turns out there is more going on than he thought.

The circus was more than a traveling entertainment venue. It has hidden secrets for over a century! And as Dick Grayson digs deeper, it brings up memories and forces him to look at things in a new way.

This was a great story that could only work with Nightwing and how it dealt with his past. It felt like a mystery for him and served the story well. The art was clean and there are some good appearances by others that fit without overshadowing Dick’s own story.

I highly recommend this. 5 stars

Other New 52 reviews…

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I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino

Another title of the new 52, a reboot of sorts from DC.  However, don’t ask me to explain all of the things DC has done in the past twenty years, with three different storylines, as I don’t think I can explain it.

Title: I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love
Author: Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino (illus)
Series: I, Vampire
Publish Date: October 9th, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: graphic novel, superhero, horror
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As a part of the DC Comics – The New 52 event of September 2011, I, Vampire is reborn in this new ongoing series!

For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU! Their past behind them, they find themselves ready to battle to the death…but only if those feelings really are all gone. Knowing the difficult battle before him, Andrew will have to work with John Constantine and Gotham’s Dark Knight, Batman!

Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino mix the world horror with super-heroes in one of DC Comics’ most exciting new series!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

In this collection, it really is a story of Tainted Love. Andrew Bennett made a vampire out of Mary, but while he isn’t a killer and feeds to live, Mary took to being a vampire like breathing. And she reveled in it—in the hunt, the kills, the feeding—to a level Andrew doesn’t like. Now, some of this is in the flashbacks, and I get the sense that maybe the two of them traveled well together, but she slowly embraced the violence more than Andrew. I don’t understand why he didn’t act on this sooner.

For me, that was the tip of the proverbial iceberg of issues I had with this story. Andrew knows what Mary has become . . . so leaves her for decades and only reappears when she might give away that they exist. I don’t get that. In a world of aliens, caped crusaders, and powered people, who would blink at vampires? And wouldn’t it be better to let the general populace know about them? When several other DC heroes are brought into the story, I don’t understand why vampires aren’t made public. Further, having waited so long, now she has created so many, it’s not easy for Andrew to just get to her. He created a problem and is trying to deal with it, but it’s all too forced.

Not knowing anything about vampires in the DC universe, their powers made no sense to me. It’s as if they have any power ever mentioned by any source. Turning to mist, strength, speed, senses, shapeshifting into animals, even flying just seems to happen as needed for the plot, which doesn’t work for me. Then there is a twist at the end with a big reveal, but again, with no foreshadowing, it all fell flat.

Finally, the art was not good. There were times where it didn’t direct me in the correct direction to read, which didn’t help. I should have gone across both pages but read down one because it wasn’t obvious which way to go.

The only reason I am giving this a two instead of a one is that there are some good moments and some standout art. However, it was a close thing. Further, I don’t even see how this story could have been improved. It was too cliche.

Other New 52 reviews:

Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos

This was my first foray into Jessica Jones in the print medium. I enjoyed it. A solid four.

Title: Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1
Author: Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos (Illus.)
Series: Jessica Jones: Alias
Publish Date: September 22, 2015, by Marvel
Genre: Graphic novel, superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Meet Jessica Jones. Once upon a time, she was a costumed superhero… but not a very good one. Her powers were unremarkable compared to the amazing abilities of the costumed icons that populate the Marvel Universe. In a city of Marvels, Jessica Jones never found her niche.

Now a chain-smoking, self-destructive alcoholic with a mean inferiority complex, Jones is the owner and sole employee of Alias Investigations – a small, private-investigative firm specializing in superhuman cases. When she uncovers the potentially explosive secret of one hero’s true identity, Jessica’s life immediately becomes expendable. But her wit, charm, and intelligence just may help her survive through another day.

COLLECTING: Alias 1-9

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

There are two stories in this trade. In the first, Jessica finds herself being used. I took it that she is early in her career because she gets caught in a “trap” and used by several powerful people. It’s a character piece as she wrestles with what she should do.

The second story is about her learning how to check out her clients better and trying to help people. And dealing with some very strange circumstances. A wife wants her lost husband found. He was a sidekick to several heroes, but can’t seem to settle down. It ends with a really good talk about psychology that I liked and still think about.

What stopped this from being a five was a bit of the art. I eventually got used to it, but I think it needed a bit more to elevate it. As good as the stories were, I think they needed a bit more dialog, maybe narrative text, to explain a few things better. 

Turncoat by Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus

I picked up a couple of titles from the TPub Comics booth at Wizard World Chicago. Here’s my review of the first.

Title: Turncoat
Author: Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus
Publish Date: December 6th, 2016 by TPub Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, superheroes, comedy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Turncoat follows the story of Duke, the world’s worst superhero assassin, and his constant battle with his ex-wife and rival assassin, Sharon. Duke is always one step behind Sharon, constantly missing out on the “big hit” that will set him for life (it certainly doesn’t help matters that he only ever seems to go up against D-list superheroes like “Bug-Boy” and “Freedom Fighter”). So when Duke receives a contract for the most famous superhero team in the world, he realizes his time has come, not just to finally make the big hit, but to finally move on from his ex-wife.

If only it were that simple.

Turncoat is a collection of the entire six-issue run of the popular webcomic of the same name (www.turncoatcomic.com). Created by Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus in 2014, despite the two of them never having met. Ryan is from London, England, and Klaus is from New York.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a title that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s dark and anti-heroic, if not downright villainous. Before they get to the “big hit,” they do several smaller ones that truly show how bad Duke is. And it’s hilarious. In all the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons. He betrays. He’s petty. And I kept laughing.

He wants to be taken seriously but he is never the one who makes the big kill. When the “big hit” comes, he thinks he’s ready. He’s not.

I don’t want to spoil things here because I think this one is a solid four and worth a read. They eventually reveal Duke’s motivations and backstory, and it works well. And there are a few twists as it gets to the ending, which I did like.

There were several minor things here and there that didn’t work for me or I would have given this a five. Still, a good story and fun read.

Kill Them All by Kristen Brand

Valentine Belmonte is back with a die-hard vengeance when her family is attacked on their vacation, leaving her former-superhero husband, Dave, in a coma. But without the morals of the White Knight to back her, will she fall back into her old and villainous habits?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Kill Them All
Author: Kristen Brand
Series: White Knight, Black Valentine, Book 4
Publish Date: September 15th, 2018
Genre: Superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionValentina Belmonte walked away from her supervillain career years ago. Having peaked at the top of the national Most-Wanted List, she now lives a quiet life with her husband and daughter, enjoying the Florida sun. Sure, she has to curb her violent and illegal instincts to stay under the radar, but her family is worth it.

Until they’re attacked. With her husband—a retired superhero and the closest thing she has to a conscience—hospitalized and on the brink of death, she’s done playing nice. She doesn’t know who attacked them or why, but she’ll wreak bloody destruction until she finds out. Nobody does revenge like a supervillain, but as her single-minded pursuit grows more violent, it threatens the only family she has left…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

The White Knight and Black Valentine books continue to be one of my favorite superhero series. There’s action, intrigue, lots of sexy innuendos, and plenty of superpowers to play around with. And in this particular book, it’s all about Valentina, a powerful telepath from a family with a penchant for psychic abilities. She’s sassy, sneaky, and damned near unstoppable – especially if she gets her mind-controlling hooks into you.

In Kill Them All, Valentina deals with the ultimate betrayal and the “loss” (Dave’s not dead, but he’s not exactly functioning and able to help) of her husband. With danger lurking around every corner and her past coming back to haunt her, Valentina is slowly being pushed back into her old life – back to committing crimes, back to dirty deeds, and back to killing people. The whole idea is that she’s gotta figure out what lines can be crossed on the path to getting her husband back… and which ones she can never come back from.

This has a lot of intensity as Valentina is faced with multiple foes and backstabs from her so-called friends. But she’s smart and sassy and she begins to figure out the game she’s apart of….which may end up being the death of her, but I won’t spoil too much.

There are plenty of other heroes and baddies that join the fray – like Freezefire, who is Dave’s best friend and former trainee, plus a goody-two-shoes who plays an important role in reminding Valentina who she is. Lady Nightmare, Valentina’s sister who can mentally trap people in their worst nightmares. Oh, and you get to meet Ember, who is technically a bad guy with obsidian armor and some pyrotechnic skills. A few others are mentioned but don’t play as big of a role (until the end, that is, for one of them).

Overall, I really enjoyed this! Can’t wait to read the finale!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try some other superhero favorites like Lexi Dunne’s Superheroes Anonymous, Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series, and the Heroine Complex series by Sarah Kuhn.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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