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Detective Comics #855

Posted in Batwoman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, The Question with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Batwoman in Wonderland.

Batwoman in Wonderland.

“Elegy Part 2: Misterioso”
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Variant Cover Artist: J.G. Jones

“The Question – Pipeline: Chapter One/Part Two”
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

It’s official: Detective Comics is the best Bat-book on the shelves at the moment.  Who would have thought that Batwoman would amount to anything more than a media publicity stunt?  Well, the media don’t really care anymore, but I sure as hell do.

So many great Batman staples make their return here: Carroll-inspired villainy, Gothic castles, mad monks, and bad opium dreams [see Arkham Asylum, The Cult, Gothic, Batman and the Mad Monk, and Venom].  It’s Rucka’s respect for these hallmarks that makes us accept Batwoman into the Bat-family, and as a worthy successor to the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batwoman’s new foil Alice is chilling and off-kilter to say the least.  In fact, she’s quickly establishing herself as Batwoman’s Joker, and honestly I think she’s interesting enough to pull it off.  Her exclamations are just like original Alice, but it’s her pragmatism and emotional detachment under the guise of curiosity and innocence that makes my skin crawl.

All of this is augmented by Dave Stewart’s striking colours and J.H. Williams’ beautiful pencils.  Williams’ panel layouts are once again experimental yet easy to follow, and their “otherness” only fuels the drug-induced surrealism that dominates the issue.  “Beautiful, like broken butterfly wings” is the best way I can think to describe it.  Batwoman’s flowing red locks, Alice’s running mascara, the falling autumn leaves, the psychedelic vines that cloud Kate’s memories: this comic is a visual feast.

Suffice it to say, Kate Kane’s beginner’s luck has run out and Alice – new leader of the Religion of Crime – shows her true colours.

A very strange cliffhanger is followed by The Question backup feature, with Cully Hamner ably assisting on pencils.  His art is like Weet Bix and warm milk; the cartoony style can’t prepare you for the gritty brutality that follows.  The Question teaches her adversaries a very valuable lesson: don’t bring a weapon against someone more proficient in that weapon – like nunchaku for instance – it’s just a liability.  After some persuasive interrogation, Montoya shifts back into detective mode, but finds more trouble than info.  The Question’s street-level view helps ground an otherwise fantastical cape story, which again begs the Weet Bix and warm milk analogy.

Once again, Detective Comics has cemented itself as the most beautiful, value-packed book on store shelves.  Issue 854 was a great new start to Detective with very little background required, so why not jump in while the time is ripe?

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The Goon in: A Place of Heartache and Grief

Posted in Comics, Dark Horse, The Goon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1st June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Lonely Street lives up to its name.

Lonely Street lives up to its name.

Author & Artist: Eric Powell
Colorist: Dave Stewart

First things first, I love reading the forewords to these Goon collections.  They’re part of the Goon experience for me; I would be seriously disappointed if they shipped without one.

Eric Powell is pretty much a genius.  He practically obliterated the fourth wall altogether; his plots and characters are utterly ridiculous, and yet I find myself emotionally invested in all of them.  Powell wasn’t lying when he called it ‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’.  Lonely Street lives up to its name in what is by far the most affecting Goon story yet.  And that’s not to say that this volume is an entirely joyless endeavour, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  The Goon, as always, is punctuated by several laugh out loud moments, provided mostly by his ethically challenged sidekick Franky.  The rest of the laughs are provided by Powell’s colourful support cast, which he has slowly and dare I say lovingly built up over the years.  The result is a rich culture and a town bustling with life.  What this means is that when the Goon is down in the dumps, the whole story doesn’t have to go down with him.  There’s still Franky, who’s just so despicable it’s funny; there’s the [relatively] new cast member Nagel the intelligent zombie; there’s those ratbag kids who’ll fight over anything including (but not limited to) ‘fish squeezin’s’; and of course, a rampaging giant transvestite.

Heartache and Grief sees a number of loose ends brought to a satisfying twist, and a number of old faces (thought lost) return.  Eric Powell rewards his long-time readers for sharing Goon’s journey, and I think that’s where a great deal of the story’s power comes from.  There’s an inherent intimacy with the Goon, having shared with him in so many experiences, and now sharing with him in his grief.  The previous volume Chinatown, was the perfect setup for this story, exploring the dark corners of his past, whilst foreshadowing his coming loss.  The Zombie Priest is relieved of his duties by the Priestly Order and it’s clear they mean business this time.  Along with his replacement comes a demon from Goon’s past – could this be the return of Labrazio?  Goon seems to think so and it’s driving him ’round the bend.  As this mysterious figure does the rounds, control of Lonely Street slips through Goon’s chubby digits.  With this dramatic change in status quo comes a feeling that the Goon and Lonely Street will never be the same again.

All of this is capped off with a hilarious Oprah parody.  Such is Eric Powell; such is The Goon.  It’s a juxtaposition of crazy cartoons, gangster politics and zombies, but it works.  It just works.

‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’ is a great addition to an already great series.  It really is the culmination of years of plot and character development.  Seemingly disparate plot threads resurface and intertwine which will satisfy Goon fans to no end.  But it’ll also leave them hungry for more.  Everything is building to a head in Lonely Street, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.

If you’re looking to jump into the world of The Goon, start at Volume 2 and read all the way through.