11.24.10 Reviews (DC Books)

Batwoman #0 (DC): The bottom line is that there’s no artist working in mainstream superhero comics right now that is more interesting than JH Williams. The way he structures, designs, lays out, and zeroes in on the intent of a page is unparalleled. I’ve enjoyed the style of Amy Reeder elsewhere, her clean crisp lines bringing a lot of austere beauty to the page. Here, they seem to sync up with Williams in a weird way. It’s not that Reeder has attempted to copy Williams’ style, it’s more that you can imagine Williams aping Reeder’s style in the same manner he’s aped other artists who’ve contributed to the Bat Mythos. On top of the duo, there’s just a ridiculous art team assembled here. Richard Friend on inks, Dave Stewart on colors, and Todd Klein on letters. Does it get any better than that? Williams sets up the re-introduction story to basically run two threads in parallel, Kate doing her thing, with Bruce piecing together her identity. In the process, Kate earns his respect, and he even admires certain aspects of her being. As it moves along, it’s instantly obvious that Williams “gets” the characters, their inner voices, and can bring something new to the table. We learn about both of them, their own personalities revealed as they discover each other and begin to plant the seeds that will surely allow them to forge an uneasy alliance. This is All-Star Superman. This is Planetary. This is a top of the game, instant classic, a peak example of the refinement and beauty that can occur with the industry’s most prolific genre. Grade A+.

DMZ #59 (DC/Vertigo): It was awesome to see Brian Wood team up with David Lapham here. Truly, DMZ has got to win some type of award for the best “fill-in” artists in the business. Nathan Fox, Danijel Zezelj, David Lapham? It’s just a ridiculous roster of talent. The results here immediately grab you by the throat; that opening shot of cruise missiles raining down on Manhattan, even striking the Empire State Building, is absolutely horrifying. I could actually feel my stomach suddenly sink as I cracked open the cover. Lapham’s figures have a husky bulk to them that weighs them down, matching the tone of the issue perfectly. In many ways, this issue felt like Matty was dead socially and this was simply the wake. Despite his role, he has become persona non grata, and for a writer who is so fascinated with character identity, he pulls a devilish trick here and strips it all away. Matt has no identity in this personal little war he’s waging, and that’s probably the scariest thing of all being depicted. He has no sense of self at the moment, with his past decisions and associates attempting to color him now. Even amid those varied and strong personality types, he seems to refuse to let those define him, and pause before striking his own path for once. When Matty finally emerges from the attack to take in the bombed out city, Lapham and the coloring team shift gears to show the broken cityscape in a dull gray wash. It’s an eerie echo of 9/11 and the dingy film and rubble that covered the city around the WTC site. DMZ is a risk-taking, game-changing piece of fiction that pulls no punches and makes you realize that no person and no thing are truly safe. Grade A.

Scalped #43 (DC/Vertigo): Jason Latour fills in on art duties for this issue featuring Sheriff Wooster Karnow. His style is right at home in the world of The Rez, bringing a sense of grit in the detail that reminds me of Guy Davis, with a soft caricature influence that brings to mind someone like Rob Guillory. He can capture something as dirty as the junkyard sex scene, the small little statue of Wolverine(!) in Karnow’s office, and even the facial traits that reveal Karnow is a sad little man in almost every way. With the infusion of a deputy from the US Marshal’s Service tracking a fugitive, this issue is all about separating the reality from the bullshit where Wooster Karnow is concerned. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that the guys who are the “real deal,” the guys who really have the experience and skill, well they rarely talk about it. They’re humble and quiet, they’re unassuming, and they don’t over-compensate their shortcomings by gloating and bragging. Yeah, they’re more like the US Marshal in this story than they are like Karnow. All his bluster and braggadocio is a big “tell,” to borrow a term from the poker players out there. This issue is a good example of how Scalped is a cut above everything else. It’s not just mindless violence and crime, but a deep psychological examination of what drives the characters. What really breaks your heart is that Jason Aaron gives us just a small sliver of hope at the end to tease us and confuse us and make us unable to dismiss Karnow as a total lost cause, there's no black and white, just the gray suggestion that Karnow might actually have been taught an extremely difficult lesson, and learned a little humility. Grade A.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Matt C said...

You are absolutely correct about Batwoman #0. Utterly brilliant.


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