PREVIEW: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom"
Hey, a theme! I’m not letting that get away! Especially since I have never before bought (and may never again buy) three superhero comics starring two women, a woman who calls herself a girl, and a faceless zen Latina in the same week. Have to take advantage of that sort of thing.
Detective Comics #857- I wish I liked this more. You’re certainly not going to get a comic that looks better than this too often, especially not from DC. Williams’s work really ought to be enough to earn my $3.99. And it’s not like Rucka’s story is bad; it works perfectly well. It hits all its beats, there some characterization, a twist or two. What you’d expect from Rucka and no less.
But that’s the problem. It’s a perfectly acceptable superhero comic with spectacularly gorgeous packaging. I normally hate this criticism, but if anyone but Williams drew this, it would just be another comic. And for once, the Question back up (which, in a hypothetical world of no Williams on the main series, would be the draw for me) didn’t do much for me, either. If not for the fact that I don’t want to buy a trade to read each story that I’m moderately interested in (but still don’t want to miss out on), I could easily see dropping this.
That said, I feel like a jerk for whining about this well made comic. You don’t get many of those ever, so I hate to mildly prod it because it does not live up to my expectations/features too much Batwoman in a Batwoman story. I wish I could gush about this like I could Slott’s She Hulk. So I’ll move on to another comic. Maybe that will lead to a fresh opinion.
Power Girl #5- Aw crap, I feel the same way about this thing! I liked the last issue a lot, and certainly this one was about as good. The art’s exceptional, the story’s okay but nothing I feel I have to read, and hey, no rape, zombies, or angst! That said, I could really take or leave this. I was the same way about Blue Beetle, really. This is the kind of comic I buy off the rack at the LCS for a couple months and then drop when I lose interest or need room in my budget for more or less comics.
Still, it’s pleasant superhero comics with a strong female lead, and if that’s all you’re looking for, have at it. But on that front, it’s certainly no Dan Slott She Hulk (even if Palmiotti and Grey’s set up is pretty close, without the awesome supporting cast). So hey, it’s much better than I expected a Power Girl ongoing to be, but without Amanda Conner, I’d never give it another look. It’s slight, which is no bad thing, I just don’t need another lighthearted superhero book. I’m okay on those. That said, I do hope someone gives Conner an award for “Best Depiction of Cats In A Female Superman Derivative Comic Published By DC.” Between this and Supergirl in Wednesday Comics, she totally deserves it.
Spider Woman #1- I went in to this with the lowest expectations of the three comics, because I find Bendis hit and miss, and count his Daredevil run with this book’s artist, Alex Maleev, as one of his misses. (Or, at least, I was as fond of it as I was of the Flash in Wednesday Comics; I can see why people love it, and think it’s solid, I’m just not crazy about it). I bought it because it was a new number one and I do have a little fondness for the character.
So, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t my favorite of the three. Of course, expectations influenced this a lot, and I’m not saying it’s any better than ‘Tec. It’s certainly not as spirited as PG, either. The plot sees Jessica Drew (understandably) at rock bottom following Secret Invasion, with the requisite world weariness and self loathing involved in that. So, the fun comics coalition can go ahead and sit this one out, I’m thinking. Since they were waiting for me to tell them that they wouldn’t like a Bendis comic.
While it reminds me of Alias a bit, this does not look like it’s shaping up to be another Bendis street level noir tinged story (which I happen to think is his milieu, as my favorite Bendis comics fit that bill). Well, okay, it is tinged with noir. Jessica is hanging out in a seedy place. But that place happens to be Madripoor, home to such realistic characters as Razorfist and Sapphire Styx, vampire bar skank.* Given all the sci fi and Skrull imposters in this one, it seems like it’s going to be a balance between Bendis’s wheelhouse a sci-fi/superhero/espionage comic that someone like Matt Fraction or Warren Ellis would be more ideal for.
Still, I liked this enough to at least consider getting the trade, if not keep buying it in single issues (the $4 will probably force my hand on that decision, although I’ve noticed trades are not as cumulatively cheaper than singles than they used to be). The setup is interesting; SWORD gives Drew a chance to tie up the loose ends of the Skrull Invasion and other alien incursions on Earth on her off time from the Avengers. Seems like there’s legs there, which is nice; this could last for a while and have a purpose beyond “Bendis really liked this character when he was 12.”
You’ve also got a fine team in Bendis and Maleev here. While I was pretty underwhelmed by their DD, I’m not contending that they aren’t one of the better creative partnerships in mainstream comics. They’re not on a Brubaker/Phillips or Morrison/Quitely level, at least in my pantheon of great modern comics duos, but they’re not too far off either. I mean, they’re no Slott and Bobillo on She Hulk, but they’ll do.
In summary, of these three solid comics featuring female protagonists, I liked Spider Woman the best, but I like none of them as much as Dan Slott’s She Hulk, my gold standard for female superheroes (because it is the only run of its kind I own). That it took me over 1,000 words to say that is a portent of bad omens, I think. You may want to find a bomb shelter.
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