Archive for cliffhanger

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?

Advertisements

Flash: Rebirth #3

Posted in Comics, DC, Flash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25th June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Slow and steady wins the race.

Slow and steady wins the race.

“Rearview Mirrors”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover Artist: Ethan Van Sciver & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Colorist: Brian Miller

Flash: Rebirth #3 is an odd little duck.  While the cuts are quick and kinetic, the storytelling adopts a slow and steady approach.  It’s been mentioned by others before, but Van Sciver’s vertical panel-slicing does seem to contribute towards this feeling, for good or for ill (I for one would like to see more two-page spreads to open things up a little).  That and there just doesn’t seem to be all that much running.  The cover of this issue teases yet another race between the Flash and Superman, and while this particular race has an urgency the others can only dream of, it’s over so quickly that you wonder what all the fuss was about.  In truth, it was the most interesting plot-point they could reveal on the cover without spoiling a story full of surprises.

It’s really difficult to discuss this issue (or indeed last issue) without robbing it of its impact.  But I’ll put it this way: Barry Allen is back, and that’s not a good thing.  This issue maintains the cinematic feel of its predecessors, peeking around all corners of the speedsters’ lives.  Recent developments cause Barry to question his role as the Flash, and his place in the Speed Force, if he has a place at all.  Let’s just say that the Flash is about to face his Parallax in a race against time.

Comparisons to Green Lantern are apt, considering the reunion of Rebirth‘s creative team to bring us this series.  I have every confidence that the Flash’s rebirth will live up to that association.  Despite some assertions to the contrary, Van Sciver is on his A-game for this outing, and Johns is continually improving his craft beyond all expectations (how does you challenge yourself when you’re already the best?).  The Flash books have languished ever since Johns’ departure all those years ago, and yet, these first three issues are far and away superior to his life’s work on the character.  As you’d expect, themes of death and rebirth are explored at length (as they have been in the rest of the DC Universe these past few years), and three issues in, I can’t help but see this is leading into Blackest Night.  Morrison did this with Batman and Final Crisis last year, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility.

A seasoned Flash writer, Johns seems to have stumbled over a Flash formula (3X2(9YZ)4A!) he’s not used before.  Time travel has always been elementary to the Flashes, but Johns’ time-travel-as-flashback or vice versa is quite clever.  It’s also quite confusing, but I have faith that all will make sense in this written-for-the-trade effort.  And while you *could* feasibly wait for this six-part story to be collected in a single volume, that would deny these cliffhangers of their power, not to mention your own anticipation.  You’ve gotta hand it to Johns, he really knows how to end a chapter, and he always leaves me wanting more.  I’ve said this before, but Johns is probably DC’s biggest fan, and the fact that he knows this universe and these characters so much better than all of us puts him one step ahead – in control – at all times.  Lead on, I say!