Written by Peter Milligan
"Trying to turn myself into Gemma Constantine. Maybe tonight I've finally become Gemma Masters."
NORTHLANDERS # 41
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Marian Churchland
Thor's Daughter. The Outer Hebrides, A.D. 990: Birna Thorsdotter is the fourteen year old daughter of a powerful man who pretty much owns the island and is paid by travellers for his advice and opinions. Birna's mother died some time earlier. After her father is murdered by some of his own men, Birna is left completely alone with no status and no protection. Despite her fear and grief, Birna realises that she has to step up and survive in a hostile world and reclaim her birthright.
Northlanders is an endlessly fascinating series. Despite being linked by a common backdrop (the Viking age, approximately the late 8th to 11th centuries in Northern Europe) each storyline is completely self contained with completely different characters and even different artists for each story. This issue contains a single issue story concerning the resourceful Birna Thorsdotter who has to avenge the death of her father and earn her birthright from her family's enemies. The story has the feel of an old folk tale and benefits immensely from beautiful and evocative artwork from Marian Churchland. Treasure this series while you can because apparently it has been canceled by Vertigo and is scheduled to finish in March 2012."I was born on these islands, not far from the stones. Sometimes it feels like magic. Sometimes like a prison."
CINDERELLA: FABLES ARE FOREVER # 5
Written by Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Shawn McManus
Published by Vertigo
Cinderella, Fabletown's premier spy, is hot on the trail of the murderous criminal mastermind Dorothy Gale, who is working for a sinister Shadow Fabletown. In an attempt to flush out her enemy, Cinderella decides to deliberately step into a trap that Dorothy has set for her. However, Dorothy has an ace up her sleeve.
This is the fifth installment of a six issue spin off from the popular comic Fables, which featured popular characters from fairy tales and folklore existing in a contemporary universe. This story recasts Cinderella as a secret agent, and Dorothy Gale (from The Wizard of Oz) as a villainous criminal mastermind, along with monsters, magical spoons, witches and wizards and a plot straight out of one of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming (the title is a reference to Fleming's book Diamonds Are Forever and subsequent film). The mix of styles works very well and the story is told with plenty of humour and there are plenty of enjoyable twists and turns along the way. Since this is the fifth of a six part story it's too late really for newcomers to the comic, but wait around a couple of months and check it out when it's released as a graphic novel.
"Don't worry, the fall won't hurt you. But stopping certainly will."
BATMAN # 711
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Illustrated by Steve Scott and Ryan Wynn
Published by DC
Pieces, Part Two. Harvey Dent (aka "Two Face") is shocked to discover that his beloved Gilda is alive after all, despite the fact that he thought he killed her. However Gilda is now with his enemy, mobster Mario Falcone, and is trying to kill him. Dent is then captured by Edward Nigma (aka "The Riddler") and his "daughter" Enigma. To his surprise, the Riddler offers to help him and informs him that Gilda is being held by Falcone against her will. With all the confusion, Dent is desperate to retrieve his "Two Face" coin (one side is clear but the other is badly scarred and Dent uses it to decide whether the Harvey Dent or Two Face part of his psyche should be in control). To complicate the situation for Batman, he has to watch out for Kitrina Falcone (aka "Catgirl") who has gotten in way over her head. The Caped Crusader has his work cut out for him.
It's complex enough in stories when you have two sides being played off against each other, whereas here you have three sides being played against each other with Batman stuck in the middle. It is a dark and complex plot, full of twists and turns and double crosses The main problem being that Batman himself is kind of pushed to the background with all the other stuff going on around him. While this is probably not going to become one of the classic Batman stories it is a solid slice of Gotham City adventure, mixing both action and detection, which will please fans.
"From now on, I'm killing anyone who pops up."
NORTHLANDERS # 41