Monday, September 28, 2009

Triple Feature Review: Detective Comics, Billy Batson and Spider-Woman

Detective Comics #857
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by J. H. Williams III and Cully Hamner
Colors by Dave Stewart and Dave McCaig
Published by DC Comics

Well the people over at 'Tec have done it again. While this arc ("Elegy") for the Batwoman ends, it raises several questions in the process, and the Question's arc continues on. This issue really defines Kate and gives her more definition rather than just a female Batman. Rucka has spun a great story here and how it ends is something I didn't see coming, though really should have since the cover is a huge hint and elbow nudge.

So basically, Alice alerts Kate that she has abducted her father and plans on releasing poisonous chemicals over Gotham. Now while the bat-eared hero versus the white-skinned villain distibuting chemicals over a major metropolitan city sounds should. However, Williams and colorist Dave Stewart turn something we've seen a myriad of times, into pages that are out of left field and very inventive. One of the main fight scenes between Batwoman and her albino adversary, resembles that of a tarot card, but it is not as confusing at all. I always find myself taking longer to read this title because I just linger at the pages making sure I catch everything, and it sometimes is a lot to take in.

Now, on to the second feature of this issue: the Question still on the trail for the slave traffickers. Now I know that Cully Hamner is not J. H. Williams, and the best part is, he's not trying to be. I have to admit though, Hamner has really stepped up his game with this issue. With only eight pages of story there's only so much one can do, but Hamner, aided by new colorist for this feature, Dave McCaig (Adam Strange, Superman: Birthright) really delivers.

This issue of Detective Comics continues the tradition of solid story-telling and creative art styles that well and translates into something wonderful and difficult to put down.

Spider-Woman #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev
Letters by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics

This book has been in the works for sometime now and it's finally here: Spider-Woman #1. The thing is though, the issue isn't really that action-oriented or heavy on the espionage. It reads more like a character study for Jessica Drew with the Bendis standard of way too many inner dialouge caption boxes which I got burnt out on rather quickly. There's some points in the book that you don't even need to read them, because Alex Maleev's artwork captures the turmoil Jessica is feeling with his wild colors and figure composition. I mean, she compares herself to Wolverine on their levels of being screwed up and you can see the anger and frustration in the panels. It's something to behold.

So what we have in this issue, is Jessica Drew being offered a position for SWORD by Abigail Brand for hunting down the remaining Skrull from "Secret Invasion", basically giving Jessica a chance at revenge. I really love Bendis' set up here, and I have to admit, I'm intrigued by the concept and curious about the next issue. My main complaint doesn't come from Bendis or Maleev (who is the selling point, in my opinion), but to Marvel itself. An extra dollar for only six extra pages? We really couldn't get a solid eight like they've been putting in Detective Comics or Streets of Gotham? Really?

I wasn't blown away by anything here, mainly because it was set up and flashbacks, but I'm not going to hold that against Bendis since I know this team up that produced some of my favorite Daredevil stories will deliver eventually. I just wish it wasn't so wordy. 

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #8
Since the team of Art Baltazar and Franco from Tiny Titans took over the book, I find myself making sure it's in my pull box each month. In this installment, Dr. Sivana is running rampant with his own iron giant that is feeding off the life force of Tawky Tawny and Captain Marvel indirectly frees King Kull. After some creative use of the Shazam lightning power and something we learned in Third Grade about creating a magnet, Cap and Mary Marvel take down the foes and free Tawny. Now if you've been missing out of what's been going on, there is a sort of "Previously on Billy Batson" introduction, so it makes it easy to pick up because you've heard the great things about this book, but can't seem to find earlier issues. Byron Vaughns' art style works well for this kid's title, but it's almost too simple that it makes me miss Mike Kunkel's more animated style. Despite that, the book is in great hands and wonderful for any young reader.

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