Tales of the Slayer
Writers include Joss Whedon, Amber Benson, Jane Espenson, David Fury, Doug Petrie
Artists include Leinil Francis Yu, P Craig Russell, Gene Colan, Karl Moline
I enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the first three series were great, the fourth series had the annoying whiny Buffy (only saved by the joy of Xander and Anya‘s relationship) and the later series were only saved by the occasional Whedon-written episode. However, I have never sampled the comic books that were pumped out, mainly because they weren’t by Whedon. I loved Fray, though, so thought I’d give this a try. Despite Joss’s presence, as well as people strongly associated with the show, this feels like mere footnotes, stories of no substance, evaporating once read. Even the strong line-up of artists didn’t impress, although it was nice seeing Gene Colan doing the ’70s riff. One for completists only, I think.
Danger Girl: Odd Jobs
Written by J Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell (with some artist contributions), art by Joe Chiodo, Art Adams, Phil Noto
I thought I would give this a try, as Danger Girl seems to have a presence beyond being a one-hit wonder. However, despite some gorgeous Adams art and the stylish, elegant work of Noto, this was fluff dressed up as post-modern knowing irony. Enjoyable if you like that sort of thing, I guess, but not for me.
Batman: Fortunate Son
Written by Gerard Jones, art by Gene Ha
Wow. What a complete waste of Ha’s talents. A silly (and not in a good way) and flimsy tale of Batman & Robin getting involved in the world of popular music for no particularly good reason. Utter drivel. In the post-script, Jones states that Archie Goodwin suggested the rock-and-roll Batman story, before going on to write, and I quote: ‘Archie died after seeing only the first draft’, which tells you something about this horrendous nonsense.
Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales: Book 1
Written by Alan Moore, Steve Moore (no relation) and Leah Moore (definitely related); art by various
Alan Moore’s Tom Strong was some light but fun speculative fiction, with some quality art by Chris Sprouse. The flavour dropped out when he did, so this seemed a nice halfway house. However, this is not Alan firing on all cylinders, which makes Steve Moore’s writing seem even more pedestrian. There is some blocky, stiff art from Paul Rivoche, some competent and uninspiring work from Alan Weiss, and some fun work from Jamie Hernandez and Sergio Aragones on two silent tales written by Leah Moore. Jason Pearson pops in for a story told in the form of trading cards; it’s a joy to see his work again, as his slick, dynamic, cartoony art oozes pizzazz and style.
The visually worthwhile contribution comes from Art Adams, who provides his delightfully insane, intensely detailed and exquisite art on some of the silliest stories, just as an excuse to draw beautiful, full-figured, attractive women in various states of undress. To quote the comic itself, ‘the wenches are comely’. However, it seems a tad lurid at times, for example the dressing of Jonni Future in the second story (how do those breasts stay up? Is it some futuristic technology we cannot understand?), and the bevy of naked Jonni clones in ‘The Garden of Sklin’. Kudos for Adams’s ability to hide so many nipples and pudenda, while still showing buttocks for some reason, but why the worry over nudity at all? Surely the ABC books don’t have to worry about that? For that matter, why doesn’t Adams just do straight porn? I’m sure it’d be fantastic. Just look at the cheesecake in ‘Seraglio of the Stars’ …
Batman: Nine Lives
Written by Dean Motter, art by Michael Lark
Drawn in a landscape, rather than portrait, style, the moody art of Lark is the perfect compliment for the dark noir Elseworlds tale from Motter, which sees Dick Grayson as a former cop, now private investigator, trying to find the killer of Selina Kyle, socialite and club owner, with Bruce Wayne as the primary suspect. All the usual suspects appear in slightly altered form: Harvey Dent is Wayne’s lawyer; Barbara Gordon is Grayson’s secretary (and budding photojournalist); Jack Napier is ‘Joker’, a down-and-out card shark; Cobblepot, nicknamed the Penguin due to his tuxedo fetish, runs Gotham underworld with his top hitman, Mr Freeze; Edward Nygma is chief accountant of Gotham First Municipal Bank; Clayface, so called for all the plastic surgery he’s had, is the most powerful mobster in the state. Even Killer Croc turns up in this prime slice of hard-boiled crime fiction, thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying.