Review: “Batwoman” Shows Why Its One Of The Best Comics On Shelves

Also, Green Lantern, Frankenstein, and Ultimate Spider-Man continue to impress.

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Complex Original

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In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on October 12, 2011.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Batwoman #2

What it’s about: A few years back, DC tried to diversify its comic book universe by introducing the world to the new Batwoman, one of the first mainstream lesbian superheroes. At first, the character was nothing more than a gimmick and she quickly faded into the background with little fanfare. Then a couple of years ago, writer Greg Rucka took over Detective Comics and made the brave decision to center the book on Kate Kane and her life as the high-heel wearing vigilante.

Now Batwoman is one of the highlights of DC’s rebooted comic book line, with incredible art by J.H. Williams III and a surprisingly dense plot by both Haden Blackman and Williams.

What to expect this month: The debut issue of Batwoman easily trumped the quality of DC’s higher-profile books, and was possibly the best Batman related book to come out of the "New 52." Not only did it feature an incredibly creepy new villain that has been abducting the children of Gotham, but it also introduced a shadowy government agency that's hot on Kate’s trail.

Now Batwoman must hunt down a threat that can seemingly evaporate into thin air, while also dealing with the feds, her father, and the romantic drama in her life. Blackman and Williams are doing a fine job of grounding the series' fantasy aspects with relatable and emotional plots. Even if you’re not interested in female superheroes, at least pick up Batwoman for the art by J.H. Williams, who just might be the most talented artist in comics.

Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #2

What it’s about: Spinning out of Grant Morrison’s whacky Seven Soldiers title, Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. is the holy grail of comics for horror fans. Revolving around Frankenstein and a supernatural team of misfits, such as a vampire, a mummy, a lupine, and a Creature From The Black Lagoon rip-off, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. puts action and over-the-top ridiculousness above emotions and drama.

Writer Jeff Lemire has taken the somewhat goofy concept and turned it into a wild monster mash filled with explosions and strange humor, similar to what Dark Horse Comics has been doing with Hellboy for years now.

What to expect this month: Frankenstein and his gaggle of monstrous sidekicks, called the Creature Commandos, attempt to investigate an ancient conspiracy as they battle off a horde of invading monsters. This issue also explores the origins of the team members and how they came together in the first place.

If you don’t like reading about a poetry-spouting Frankenstein that fights aliens and monsters along with a deranged team of beasts and his four-armed wife, then by all means stay far away from this book. But you’ll be missing out on a title that's one of the rare mainstream books that actually reads like a traditional comic, rather than a cheap advertisement for an upcoming blockbuster movie.

Green Lantern #2

What it’s about: Even though he was the one who guided the story development on Green Lantern’s recent big-budget movie disaster, Geoff Johns has done some amazing things with the character over the past seven years. He dragged Lantern back from the depths of comic book purgatory and actually made Hal Jordan's world interesting again for the first time since the ‘80s.

By combining aspects of ancient mythology, a bit of humanity, and a whole lot of explosions, Green Lantern soon became the focal point of the entire DC Universe. Now Johns has relaunched the title, and despite the fact that he has been on the character since 2004, the first issue was just as good as any of his previous work.

What to expect this month: With Hal Jordan stripped of his power ring, and Sinestro now in possession of it, the former rivals will have to work together to figure out why the ring won't leave Sinestro's finger. But Jordan's one-time nemesis might actually need the ring in order to free his homeworld from his former army, the Sinestro Corps.

Johns doesn’t just make this book a Star Wars rehash like some other Lantern books. He grounds the Hal Jordan by making his human struggles just as interesting as his intergalactic battles. Sinestro also plays a vital role in the book's success as his personality is more fleshed-out than ever. In fact, he's slowly becoming one of the only Green Lanterns worth caring about at the moment.

Who Is Jake Ellis? #5

What it’s about: Half spy-thriller, half psychological drama, Who is Jake Ellis? is a perfect example of how independent comic book creators can put out a book that's superior to most mainstream titles without treading over similar territories. Revolving around a globetrotting thief who's aided through life by a mysterious guardian angel that only he can see, writer Nathan Edmondson has added psychological intrigue to the somewhat vapid spy genre.

The unique storyline isn't the only thing that sets this book apart from others; the art by Tonci Zonjic perfectly captures all of the exotic locales featured in the story without ever feeling inauthentic. Zonjic provides a minimalistic style that also manages to capture the cinematic look of a James Bond film.

What to expect this month:Who is Jake Ellis? #5 wraps up the series by answering all of the lingering questions that have been floating around throughout the first four issues, without the typical letdown of most conclusions. It’s an incredibly cerebral ending that's very reminiscent of movies like The Bourne Supremacy and Fight Club.

If you want to step away from superhero stories for a little while, or all together, Who Is Jake Ellis? provides the type of widescreen action that comic fans crave, with a deeper story than most of the books that you see in stores.

Punisher #4

What it’s about: For a character that hasn’t been able to star in a movie that's anything more than abysmal, the Punisher has had pretty good luck when it comes to high-profile comic talent. With Greg Rucka now handling the writing duties, Marvel’s latest take on Frank Castle’s war on crime is just as brutal as ever.

Aided by the incredibly grim art by Marco Checchetto, Punisher strays from the typical Spandex superhero story, but it’s also not as grounded as Garth Ennis’ Punisher Max. Somehow Rucka has found a perfect balance between street violence and fantasy, and it works surprisingly well.

What to expect this month: After a brutal battle with the Vulture last issue, which left the Punisher battered and broken in an alley, Frank Castle is now a wounded animal with nothing but vengeance on his mind. A very pissed off Frank Castle is left to track down the criminal empire known as The Exchange, in order to get revenge for a wedding day massacre that left dozens dead.

Along with Daredevil, Punisher is one of Marvel's best newly relaunched books. Incredibly violent, intricately plotted, and simply beautiful to look at, this title should be a lesson to the industry as to how a great comic begins with a great creative team.

Ultimate Spider-Man #3

What it’s about this month: When Marvel hired Brian Michael Bendis to launch Ultimate Spider-Man in 2000, he created a universe where Peter Parker existed in the 21st century and faced all of the troubles of a modern teenager. The book reimagined Spider-Man’s classic rouges gallery and supporting cast by giving them realistic motivations and believable personalities.

Since then, Bendis’ updated look at the Wall Crawler has found its way into different mediums by influencing cartoons, movies, and the character’s ill-fated Broadway play. Now the title has been relaunched with a new Spider-Man: a half-African American, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales.

What to expect this month: There's no way around it—Miles Morales was created as a publicity stunt by Marvel in order to diversify the ethnicities of its characters. Oddly enough, Bendis has crafted an amazing first two issues out of this character, despite Miles being nothing more than a contrived marketing puppet.

By getting back to his roots of writing comics about characters as opposed to overblown action scenes, Bendis has recaptured the magic that Ultimate Spider-Man had years ago. This third issue continues the Morales' origin as he finally figures out that he’s the new Spider-Man. It's both terrifying and exhilarating for him to adjust to his powers, and Bendis captures it all with a whimsical eye. It’s still a thrill to see the Web Slinger discover his powers, no matter who is under the mask.

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