The Comic Queen

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Friday, October 22, 2004

Single-Panel Reviews 10/22/04

Here are comments on a few comics I’ve read from the last two weeks.

Astro City: A Visitor’s Guide
Wildstorm $5.95
Writer: Kurt Busiek; Cover Artist: Alex Ross; And a whole slew of other artists for the gallery of heroes
This book’s concept – a vistor’s guide to Astro City – was a great idea and it certainly was fun to page through. However, I felt like it could have been more complete. For example, the history of Astro City and the guide to Astro City’s Neighborhoods both had page tear aways, so that the entire story wasn’t told, it just looked like someone had torn out the page. Now, if I’m a visitor to Astro City, and they’re handing out visitor’s guides with torn out pages, I’m going to be a little ticked. Now imagine if you dropped $5.95 on it? So, a little disappointment there. The book does have some nice features like the Who’s Who-type section called “Our Brightest Stars” illustrated by a plethora of leading artists in the industry. The short story at the beginning of the guide was also very nicely done. I just feel like they could have made this book one that newcomers would want to pick up just as much as “hardcore” fans.
Bottom line: B

Gotham Central #24
DC $2.50
Writer: Greg Rucka; Penciller: Lark; Inker: Gaudiano; Colorist: Robins
Rucka wraps up a two-part storyline this issue. My favorite character of the series, Renee Montoya, tries to clear her partner on the GCPD, Chris Allen, of the shooting (and killing) he committed to save her life on the job. There are some characters that Rucka tells better stories with, one is Tara Chase in the comic Queen & Country, and another is Montoya here in Gotham Central. Rucka pulls out more humanity, story, and character with Montoya than most other people he writes. So, it was a treat to see Rucka focus on her character again in this two-parter.
Bottom line: A-

Ocean #1 (of 6)
Wildstorm $2.95
Writer: Warren Ellis; Penciller: Chris Sprouse; Inker: Karl Story; Colorist: Randy Mayor of WSFX
This is just solid sci-fi. Non-sci-fi fans are probably yawning right now or thinking, “yeah, you mean it follows the same formula as every other sci-fi story out there.” O.k., sure there is a bit of familiar formula here: start out with a shocking reveal, and set up the mystery through a single character who is going to investigate, usually on a distant planet. Yep, that’s about right. There are coffins floating in the ocean of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and Nathan Kane, a very mysterious guy, is beginning his investigation. Yet, with all really good sci-fi, it’s less about what is said than how it is told, and Ellis tells a great story while Sprouse and Story, through their art, make it beautiful. A warning for those who like their stories told quick and to the point – wait for the trade. If you like to savor a well-told story, though, bon appetit.
Bottom line: A-

Batman: War Games, for the last two weeks
Wow, after last week’s issues (that’d be Batman: LOTDK #184 and Nightwing #98), I was ready to give up on the crossover that is “War Games.” But this week’s books (Robin #131, Batman: Gotham Knights #58, and Batgirl #57) restored new hope into the “event.” I rarely talk back to my comics, but then, in LOTDK #184, Batman narrating says: “The plan was perfect. The entire criminal population of Gotham City assembled together in one place … united under a single leader … a leader who took orders from me. And outside—an army of police, waiting to move in and arrest them all … on my command. Like I said—the plan was perfect.” I couldn’t help but yell at my comic: “Like hell it’s a good plan! That’s the shittiest plan I’ve ever heard of. Nothing could possibly go wrong with all of Gotham’s underworld together in one spot! And of course you’ll be able to order around the police, ‘cuz they just LOVE you Batman.” I’m sorry, I’m all for suspending belief when I read a lot of comics, but come on, it has to be a plausible suspension of belief. I mean Batman is supposed to the “world’s greatest detective” right? Couldn’t he use his detective skills to figure out that his plan totally sucked? Whew, had to get that off my chest.

Batgirl 57 from www.dccomics.comMeanwhile this week’s comics made a whole lot more sense and were much more interesting. Also, James Jean’s cover for Batgirl #57 was beautiful (no big surprise there). A couple little complaints in general, though. Black Mask, the big bad villain, really needs some more backstory given on him. If I didn’t have access to a DC encyclopedia, I wouldn’t have known anything about him. And I’ve been a Batman fan for a long time. (Me: Hi, my name is Erin. I love Batman. You: Hi Erin!). Anyhoo, the other constructive criticism is that DC really needs to give a brief synopsis at the beginning of each issue. This is just common courtesy to the reader in a long crossover like this anymore. Well, it sure doesn’t sound like I’m enjoying the series so far, but really it has had its good moments, it’s just that the issues vary so much from each other that it’s hard to get an overarching feel for the series.

Bottom line: For the series as a whole: B-; for this week’s books: B+


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