"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be looking at four writer/artist duos, as voted on by you, the readers! This week features Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle! Today’s page is from Anarky #2 (the ongoing series), which was published by DC and is cover dated June 1999. Enjoy!
Grant and Breyfogle ended their tenure together with Anarky, which was a four-issue mini-series and then this, an eight-issue ongoing. They’re not bad comics, but the duo didn’t quite capture the magic of their Batman work. In the first arc of the ongoing, Anarky happens to find a power ring (it’s not explained very well by Grant, but it seems like it tied into a story in Green Lantern, so maybe that’s it), which is why he has one here. Anarky’s thing, if you don’t know, is that society itself is corrupt, and he wants to tear it all down and rebuild it. So when he gets a magic wishing ring, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot.
Grant introduces the story rather awkwardly – he has to explain that Lonnie (Anarky’s real name) is “bursting with euphoria” because he now has a power ring, but at the same time, at the end of issue #1, Lonnie found out that his parents weren’t his real parents. This is a long-running subplot that wasn’t resolved until the final issue of the run (at least I think it was; for some reason I don’t own that issue), and it’s kind of poorly written here. Grant dropped the bombshell at the end of the previous issue, seemingly out of nowhere, and it really interferes with the main story. So while we get that Lonnie is dealing with two different things on this first page, it’s not really written all that well.
Breyfogle, however, does a very nice job with the page. It’s very dynamic, with Lonnie swooping over Atlantic City and heading off the right side of the page, which takes us with him. The design of Lonnie’s Green Lantern suit is a nice mix of the traditional uniform and Lonnie’s own design (the hat and mask, for instance, which is part of his “Anarky” costume). Breyfogle uses the indistinct shapes to indicate movement very well – Lonnie’s legs blend quickly into a gray streak, with the speed lines actually escaping the confines of the border and mixing with the green wake of the power ring. He has done this throughout his career, and while it might lead some to claim that he’s “sloppy,” we can see from this page (and others) that he’s very precise with his line work and that the way he draws Lonnie’s legs on this page is just a choice to make his artwork more fluid, which it needs to imply movement. The speed lines match up well with Lonnie’s cape, and the green comet-like trails next to Lonnie add to that sense of motion. This page feels like it’s moving fast, which it is. Breyfogle, naturally, shows the power ring glowing brightly – not only is Lonnie using it, but it acts as a beacon for our eye to move toward it, so that we turn the page.
Like most comic book writers and British comic book writers in particular, Grant isn’t too subtle when writing about American society, so he and Breyfogle give us an Atlantic City-scape that shows the bright lights of casinos next to a billboard for some politician. Lonnie reserves a great deal of bile for politicians, so the fact that Grant and Breyfogle are linking politics with the somewhat sleazy business of gambling isn’t surprising even if it’s fairly obvious. Still, at least they put something on the ground to place Lonnie in context – too often in comics these days, backgrounds are ignored and characters exist in some weird void, so it’s nice that Breyfogle takes the time to draw all of that into the scene.
Finally, I’m not sure if Breyfogle or Costanza decided on the placement of the caption boxes, but the fact that they’re not rectangles but off-kilter parallelograms is a nice touch. They look more … anarchic that way, which is a smart idea when you’re dealing with a character called Anarky. This is the way caption boxes are presented throughout the series, and it’s a smart choice. It’s always nice to see creators thinking about little things like this!
Tomorrow is the last day of the month, and we have one more example of these two gentlemen working together. It’s back to Batman! But which comic is it? There are TWO possibilities, in case you’re wondering. Which crazy one will I pick? Only tomorrow can tell! But there are always the archives in the interim!
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