Turn Back the Pages: Girl Genius

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Girl Genius Volume 1 Cover

Adventure! Romance! Mad Science!

That’s the tagline of Girl Genius, and the comic doesn’t fail to deliver. Read it, and you’ll get heroine Agatha Heterodyne’s adventures through a strange and dangerous alternate version of Europe where steampunk technology has run wild. She encounters a cast of quirky, memorable characters (half of whom are mad scientists or creations of mad scientists, and most of whom want to kill and/or use her) and finds romance along the way, though all of her relationships are “complicated,” to say the least.

By Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius describes itself as a gaslamp fantasy, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because it’s been around since before steampunk was a thing. You don’t get more steampunk than this. It’s got everything from clockwork ladies…

Clockwork Lady Image

To airship cities… Continue reading Turn Back the Pages: Girl Genius

Turn Back the Pages: Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Lady Sabre Image

When was the last time you read some good old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure? It’s probably been too long, right? Well, brush up on your sword-fighting skills, because today we’re diving into Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.

Here are just a few things you’ll find in the pages of Lady Sabre: airship pirates, steampunk robots, stone-cold cowboys, and tons of sword duels. Now, just because you throw a bunch of cool things into a comic, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to have a good story. But Lady Sabre combines these elements into an epic steampunk adventure. And it does it with style.

Airship Image
Pictured: Style

I’d say there are two main characters despite only one being mentioned in the title. The first, of course, is the lady herself, and to quote her own introduction:

“Name’s Sabre, Lady Seneca Sabre… Fourteenth Marchioness of Cascadia, Captain of Pegasus, muse of Darent Found, and a host of other titles that would probably bore you to tears if I recite them, which I shan’t, as I’ve recited enough.” Continue reading Turn Back the Pages: Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether

Turn Back the Pages: Empowered

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Empowered Cover

Superheroes are sexy.

That’s not news to anyone. The tight spandex. The peak physical fitness. The contractually-obligated shirtless scene in every Marvel movie:

Shirtless Cap Gif

But for the longest time, comic book publishers seemed to think that “sexy” equaled a superheroine in an impractical costume twisted in a weird position to put both her boobs and butt on display. Combine that with some truly unfortunate storylines and shallow characterization, and it’s no wonder comics sometimes get a bad reputation for their treatment of female characters.

On paper, Empowered would seem like one of the worst examples of this. Its main character, the superheroine Empowered, gets her extraordinary abilities from her costume—a ridiculously sheer bodysuit that doesn’t hide anything. It also gets ripped in battle a lot, which not only exposes her but leaves her powerless. And so she regularly ends up captured by supervillains and put in bondage.

Sounds terrible, right?

But it’s actually incredibly well-done, and can be sexy, hilarious, and at times, tragic. Honestly, there’s nothing else like it in superhero media. Here’s what makes it so good: Continue reading Turn Back the Pages: Empowered

Turn Back the Pages: Agents of Atlas

Turn Back the Pages is a new biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Agents of Atlas Cover

Superhero comics are like Nutella—they go with everything. You can mix superheroes with science fiction, espionage, urban fantasy, or even 70s kung fu movies, and it works. On a superhero team book, genres get thrown into a blender (Superman’s sci-fi roots plus Wonder Woman’s mythical origins, with a dash of Batman’s crime noir, for example). But few teams encapsulate that delightful hodgepodge of different elements better than Agents of Atlas.

The Agents of Atlas were the Avengers before the Avengers. Formed by the government in the late 1950s, they saved the world a few times and disbanded soon after. Now, over fifty years later, they’re pulled back together to face a shadowy new threat. The team is as follows:

  • Jimmy Woo: FBI agent and team leader. Got old, nearly died, and got young again, but lost his memories in the process. Figuring out who or what nearly killed him is the driving force of the plot.
  • Venus: Self-proclaimed goddess of love. Sweet and adorable. Often topless. Voice can mesmerize people and make them stop fighting.
  • The Uranian: Dude with a complicated backstory from the planet Uranus. Kind of mopey, but has a cool spaceship.
  • Namora: Cousin of Namor, prince of Atlantis. Swims, flies, and punches things really hard.
  • M-11, the Human Robot: Mysterious yet helpful robot. Doesn’t talk much.
  • Gorilla Man: A man who got turned into a gorilla by a curse, and as a side effect is immortal. Can shoot guns with both his hands AND feet. The best.

Agents of Atlas #1-6 tells a complete story, and considering that it’s only six issues, it’s amazing how writer Jeff Parker manages to make each character so well-rounded and pack the plot with so many twists and turns. It starts off with a flashback to the team’s golden age, goes to Jimmy on the brink of death in the present day, and then it’s off across the globe to get the team back together and track down leads.

This is a fun book. Not that there aren’t dark moments, and the characters are forced to acknowledge truths about themselves that they’d rather not face, but it’s wrapped up in action, adventure, and a twisty espionage plotline with an ending you won’t see coming. The Agents of Atlas just seem to enjoy each other’s company and saving the day, and it’s a treat for the reader to go along for the ride.

I’d recommend you buy the graphic novel, since it has cool extras in the back like character sketches, author’s notes, and reprints of the characters’ first comics from the 40s and 50s. Bonus material is important, because once you finish this story, you’ll definitely be wanting more.

Have you read Agents of Atlas? Interested in checking it out now? Let me know what you think in the comments.