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Thanks to a busy week (and Vampire Diaries taking up way too much of my free time), I’m a week behind on my New Comic Wednesday write-ups! There were a lot of great issues to pick up last week on my stop at The Comic Bug, particularly the ladies of Gotham. So behind the jump, you’ll find Moon Knight #2, the conclusion of Dollhouse Epitaphs, Batgirl #3, Batwoman #3, Huntress #2, Buffy Season 9 #3, House of Night #1, and Orchid #2.

 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9 #3

Is this three years ago? Nope, still missing an eye.

In this third issue, we reopen just where we left off: with Buffy and the guy who’s been killing vampires, who we find out is named Severin. He doesn’t only kill vampires; they are left behind as human corpses when he’s done with them and that is certainly something new. The real problem is that Buffy’s being blamed for their deaths. In a world where vampires are only increasing in popularity, this means that the police are after her and she may not be able to talk her way out of it.

The police stop by Buffy’s apartment as well as Xander and Dawn’s trying to track her down. Spike is off on his own mission looking for a demon he believes is going after The Slayer, only to hear that this demon claims he wants to pledge his allegiance to Buffy. Also, Severin enlightens Buffy that vampires that are created after the destruction of The Seed are turning up rabid and animal-like, rather than the mostly human manner of the older vampires. With this revelation, Buffy calls a meeting of the Scoobys, who come to the conclusion that these new post-Seed vampires are sort of zombie vampires or “zompires,” as Xander calls them, because the demons that possess their bodies have to do it from another dimension. Spike also finds out about someone called The Siphon who is apparently going after Buffy. Naturally, this doesn’t bode well.

Can I just reiterate again how happy I am that Buffy Season 9 has really returned to its roots? The meeting of the Scoobys seemed just like old times, with their meeting of the minds trying to sort through the current problems. While magic may not exist on earth anymore after the destruction of The Seed, there are still demons, vampires, and other supernatural beings to deal with. I probably mention this with each review, but I will always adore how character-focused the Buffy series is. We got one small glimpse of Andrew, listening to Born This Way, and just that was enough to crack me up. Spike meets with one badass-looking demon and still remains as snarky as ever. Then we have Xander, so proud when he comes up with “zompires.” Basically, I love my Buffy crew and I’m so glad they’ve been continued in comic form. At the end of this issue, Buffy appears to be in a bit of a pickle. Would we expect anything less? I sure wouldn’t!

House of Night #1

So now I’m the only fledgling to ever have a filled-in mark and adult vamp tattoos. The only vampyre in history with an affinity for all five elements. And I had to Google “Affinity.”

I love that Dark Horse has been offering the first issues of several of their comic series for $1 recently because it makes it that much easier to give something new a try. In this first issue of House of Night, we meet Zoey Redbird, who was a normal sixteen year old until the vampyre goddess Nyx marked Zoey as a fledgling vampyre. With this marking, she is the only fledgling vampyre with a filled in mark, adult vampyre tattoos, and an affinity for all five elements. She then had to enroll with House of Night, a finishing school for young vampyres. In this universe, fledgling vampyres are not full adult vampyres yet and only become so after the Change, which many will not survive.

In this issue, we learn that Zoey was recently put in charge of a group at the school known as The Dark Daughters, much to the chagrin of their former leader, a girl named Aphrodite. Zoey is different from everyone else due to her adult tattoos, etc., which naturally makes her life even more difficult. She meets with her group of friends, known as the “nerd herd,” and Damien is much-chagrined when he realizes the rest of the group has not studied their Fledgling Handbook properly (I think he’s going to be my favorite). They then meet with their Handbooks and learn the story of Freya, a Viking Goddess and Vampyre High Priestess, which relates to the element of earth. Subsequent to learning Freya’s story, Zoey is still overwhelmed and calls to Nyx for advice, who turns up and helps Zoey realize the first of five lessons that she must learn in order to be ready to lead.

Apparently House of Night is a book series, though it’s one I am not personally familiar with. That said, I was still able to enjoy this issue without having read the series (although if I enjoy this run of comics enough, I may end up checking it out). It helps that the art is beautiful – Dark Horse doesn’t disappoint here. The cover by Jenny Frison could be hung on a wall and Joëlle Jones & Karl Kerschl continue that theme on the inside. The characters in particular are all gorgeous.

The story seems ready for a show on The CW and I say that without scorn, as evidenced by my recent gorging on The Vampire Diaries. I love a good CW series and this has the same sort of feel. The characters are still teenagers dealing with teen issues like who stole whose boyfriend and the unbearable insecurities of adolescence, but they are also facing possible death when they meet The Change. I’ve encountered many different vampire stories over the years and what stands out to me about this one is the almost Wicca-like element of these “vampyres.” At this first glimpse, it seems like House of Night is kind of Vampire Diaries meets Hogwarts and that’s something I can certainly get behind.

Orchid #2

…and then, as now, survival of the cruelest was the sum of the law.

In the opening of Issue #2, we find out more about the history of Orchid’s world. Besides the very rich claiming the high ground and all of the available technology, we find out that, at the time of the rising seas, large ships later called “Cannibal Barges” were set adrift with much of humanity left on board. As the years continued and food dwindled, those sailing resorted to the only resources available…thus earning the name Cannibal Barges.

Back in the present day, Orchid, Yehzu, and Simon find themselves in the Iscariot Slave Camp. Naturally, that isn’t a great place to be. Orchid seems increasingly irritated by Simon and his “strange” way of speaking. He explains that he came from the R.S.C. or Robotics Slave Corps and that they had these magical things called books there from which he gained his knowledge. Later in the book, we learn that the R.S.C. is where those captured as slaves, but showing an aptitude for mechanics or intelligence, were sent. Simon tries to call the slaves to action, but none of them seem to understand him. However, due to a guard reprimand, he learns that Anzio, the leader of the rebellion of which he was a part, is still alive and due to be executed on the next full moon.

The next day, our trio is brought out to be presented during the slave auction. Simon works a trick on the scale to make him seem more appealing to the buyer and Orchid and Yehzu are both picked up due to their potential to be agreeable. Orchid remains skeptical of Simon and his plans, but as he picks the lock on his handcuffs, she seems to realize he may have use yet. Their new owner comes to review his purchases later that night, with special interest in seeing how agreeable Yehzu is, but they manage to goad him into putting on General China’s mask, upon which his head seems to implode. They make a daring escape up into The Wild only to be met with massive bear creatures, from which they are rescued by a mysterious woman who appears to have the power to wield General China’s mask.

To say that the pages of Orchid #2 are jam-packed would be a serious understatement. There is a lot going on and a lot of back story still being illuminated, but somehow it doesn’t become overwhelming as you read. Instead, you want to learn more about this strange world where they live, what Orchid and Simon may do next, and just where this story will end up. Massimo Carnevale’s cover and Scott Hepburn & Dan Jackson’s art are both spot-on for the story and subject matter. The characters portray the entire spectrum of emotion and I particularly love the way Hepburn illustrates The Wild versus any of the human settlements. The human settlements are metallic and harsh while The Wild is lush, green, and full of astonishing creatures. While The Wild is supposed to be the real danger, it does seem to offer an escape from the realities of society. I have never read a comic series that deals so closely with class issues and a dystopia of this nature. I’m excited to see where it winds up.

Batgirl #3

Huh. Redheads. What is it about redheads?

In the opening of Batgirl #3, the villain Mirror has given her an earpiece so she can hear his musings as he derails a train on which a man is riding who, a few months back, fell into a diabetic coma and landed on the tracks of the metro train. A good Samaritan saved him and, as you may recall, Mirror does not appreciate any sort of “miracle” occurrence, even the “miracle” that has Batgirl walking on two legs again. She finds the man who fell to the tracks, but doesn’t realize that the good Samaritan is on the train going in the other direction. You can imagine how well that goes.

Later that day, Barbara Gordon goes to her father, the Commissioner, to see if he’d like to go to lunch, but he’s a bit preoccupied, what with terrorist train attacks and all. However, he does take the time to warn Barbara to be careful, given her recent condition. That night, she’s out retrieving her motorcycle when Nightwing shows up. We find out that he was her first real crush when they were both working with Batman. He also has come to warn her to be careful, telling her that he only says it because he and Batman both care about her. She reiterates that she needs to do this on her own and Nightwing, understanding, takes off into the night.

One thing I love about this Batgirl series is that so much of it is about character development. It would be difficult to ignore the fact that, up until very recently, Barbara Gordon was a paraplegic, and I think Gail Simone and the rest of the team are handling it brilliantly. Barbara gets out there and takes on the bad guys, but in her personal life, she’s constantly under scrutiny by those that care about her simply because they care and they’re worried. It’s a natural reaction, but one that she doesn’t appreciate much. As for Mirror and the rest of the bads, it will be interesting to see what they do next. Plus, who doesn’t love a good redhead? Barbara Gordon certainly fits the bill on that one.

Batwoman #3

If you’re going through hell, keep going…

We open as Kate Kane’s been dragged under by the mysterious Weeping Woman. This entity, whatever it may actually be, attempts to use Kate’s terrible past against her, to force her into allowing herself to let go and drown. However, Kate Kane fights back, surfacing somewhere on the shore where the police are waiting for her. She has no intention of sticking around to answer their questions.

After a daring escape from the cops, Kate returns to her and her cousin Bette’s place where she abruptly tells her that their training is finished because she doesn’t think Bette is strong enough. Meanwhile, Kate seems to have completely forgotten that she’s missing her date with Maggie, who then shows up on her doorstep. Fortunately, Maggie seems to understand as soon as she sees Kate’s face and it just brings them closer together. At the end of the issue, we see Bette donning her Flamebird costume, so it will be interesting to see where that goes.

I think this issue seals it: Batwoman features my favorite art of The New 52. J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart’s art on the underwater sequences is particularly striking, but all of it is fantastic. I can’t get over how each character has a distinct artistic style, but they still all fit together brilliantly on the page. This issue doesn’t enlighten us much as far as what The Weeping Woman may actually be, but it doesn’t matter, as the issue really enriches the world around Batwoman. The pages are packed with development, whether it’s the agent of the D.E.O. questioning Colonel Kane about Batwoman or giving us that moment between Kate and Maggie. It’s clear that, although Kate appears strong in her Batwoman suit, in many ways she’s still reeling from the terrorist kidnapping that left her mother dead and her twin sister lost. One of the best parts of the character is that, while she is obviously still devastated by that loss, she will not let it defeat her. She keeps going.

Huntress #2

See you soon, Moretti. This hunt isn’t over.

In this second issue of Huntress, we follow Helena as she endeavors to learn more about the bad man attempting to ship girls and guns to Gotham. This takes her first to the local police department and then to the morgue to interrogate an undertaker with dirty hands. Helena then goes on to stop yet another of Signore Moretti’s shipments, taking on a few henchmen and driving the refugee women destined for sex slavery away in a school bus in the process. The next day, she follows Moretti’s caravan on a motorcycle as they leave his manor and retreat to his yacht. It looks like the pursuit is on the move.

There is no question in this book that Moretti is one seriously bad guy. This series takes on human sex trafficking in addition to illegal weapons trafficking and it definitely puts you squarely on Team Huntress. We still haven’t learned much about her as a character other than the fact that she’s rather cosmopolitan and takes on the big bad guys, but hopefully we will learn more as the series continues. She’s an intriguing character and I can’t wait to see her take Moretti down!

Moon Knight #2

Shut up. He’s got a costume on under his costume? What the hell is this?

It would appear that I missed a very important aspect of Moon Knight in Issue #1: Captain America, Wolverine, and Spiderman weren’t actually there in Los Angeles with Marc Spector. They are the three newest additions to Marc’s multiple personalities. That certainly puts an interesting twist on things! In this issue, things open with Marc having a conversation with the three other heroes, which we now know to be a conversation with himself. They’re debating on who should be the one to jump into the middle of a dicey situation, which turns out to be a strip club that is more than it would appear, run by Snapdragon with her eyes on the prize.

Moon Knight jumps down in the guise of Spiderman and fights Snapdragon as well as her rather large bodyguards. Midway through, the consensus becomes that Wolverine would do better in the situation and the personality shifts. He seems to still be losing until one of the strippers steps in and comes to his aid. We find out just who she is when she appears in his home later that night. It looks like Snapdragon will be coming after Moon Knight again and we get a glimpse of who this Los Angeles crime boss might be.

This issue delves more into how this series will be dealing with Marc Spector’s multiple personalities in the guise of Captain America, Wolverine, and Spiderman. During the main battle, his other three personalities converse amongst themselves about who might be best-suited for what is currently going on. It will be interesting to see if Moon Knight always employs this costume-over-a-costume depending on which personality comes out to play. As I believe I mentioned after Issue #1, the gritty artistic style fits perfectly with this series. I was particularly impressed with how the artist, Alex Maleev, was able to portray a shift in Marc’s physicality as he shifted personalities from Spiderman to Wolverine mid-battle. I’ll definitely be picking up the next issue.

Dollhouse Epitaphs #5

I refuse to believe we’re the only people fighting back.

In the conclusion to this run of Dollhouse, we jump right back in with Alpha and Trevor right after they’ve finally found Echo. She confirms that she has found the tech that allows people to block themselves from being imprinted, although the Rossum Corporation intended to use it as a weapon (of course). They find themselves surrounded by Wielders and Paul Ballard has found The Ivys. Fortunately, having two people with the same personality has its benefits: namely, they are extremely sympatico. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Mag, Zone, and Griff are about to execute their plan to take out the broadcast tower with the aid of everyone else they’ve been able to find.

Just after setting the bomb to blow up the tower, Mag picks up a ringing phone to find…The Ivys on the other end. Alpha gets a River in Serenity type moment and helps to further save the day, although it may put him over the edge back to Bad Alpha. The groups each have a small victory, but of course, that’s only one battle in the ultimate war against the Rossum Corporation.

I think issue was a very fitting conclusion to the run. Both factions that the series has focused on reach their ultimate goal and even make contact with each other. Echo’s back and she’ll be partnering up with Trevor the kid. She has a moment with Paul Ballard before running off to continue fighting the good fight and Mag even gets Zone to continue on with their group on the search for Safe Haven. It’s been mentioned several times in interviews I’ve read that there are plans for more Dollhouse comics, although it may not be anytime too soon. I certainly hope there will be! There are many more stories to be told.

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