Gotham Knights #42
writer: Scott Beatty
artists: David Ross and John Floyd
month in which people are panicked about Monkey Pox coming
from prairie dogs, Scott Beatty must be given credit for prescience.
There's been a slow build to Alfred's illness, and though
it hadn't been showing up in any other Batbooks, at least
Beatty knew what he was doing.
Who would have thought the bats in the cave would be a health
hazard after 63 years? And so this quiet but climactic tale
of Alfred catching a mutant strain of The Clench comes as
a welcome surprise in plotting. (Though I've long held that
"The Clench" is a rather embarrassing name for a disease.)
of action, we get characterization, as Beatty spends time
with each cast member, dealing with their reactions to the
tragedy. Tim feels extremely guilty for having brought the
disease into the cave in the first place, long ago. Leslie
keeps a brave face on, refusing to take any self-pity or lies
from Bruce. And I've clearly missed that she and Alfred are
dating, but that's probably just me.
Bane gets a nod, in a cameo that makes it clear we're not
through with him, and that he really is struggling to figure
out just what he is himself. But he is now a part of the "Batfamily,"
though for now little more than the black sheep.
back-up slot, Dean Motter delivers a story of Batman's connection
to the Gargoyles of Gotham. Though plot-wise not really
anything we haven't seen before, it's a clever take, cementing
Bruce's relationship to his city. Ask any New Yorker; city
pride is a very real thing, and we don't often get it illustrated
in comics other than a hero hissing "…not in my city!"
The Creeper #3
writer: Jason Hall
artist: Cliff Chiang
Hall and Chiang have firmly established their post-WWI Paris
setting, they can get around to really moving the story forward.
Not that nothing happened in the previous issues; it's just
that sometimes the tale took a backseat to "hey! Look where
we don't have to deal with Ernest Hemingway cameos, and can
get back to our earnest sisters and the decent police detective
battling corruption and the darker impulses in his own heart.
Oh, and yes, The Creeper, a multi-colored warrior on behalf
of artistic freedom, as far as the public is concerned.
a personal agenda against the Arbogast family, old money from
Paris that has actively campaigned against the new art movements
in the city. No one but the family themselves suspect that
The Creeper has a far more specific problem with them.
do fear her, however, as her antics and modern art pieces
have grown more dangerous.
reader, The Creeper's identity is fairly obvious. I say fairly
because though it has to be either Judith or Madeline Benoir,
Hall has done a good job each issue of tossing suspicion up
between the two. Certainly the one last honest cop has made
up his mind, but is Judith's disapproval really a sign
of her own self-hatred?
Hall and Chiang still do give us a taste of Paris life. We
see the sights and the civic struggles, brought to the page
by Chiang's spare but vivid art. This incarnation of The Creeper
is definitely a product of her time, and the creators have
made it easy (but not too easy) to understand.
also a nod to the DC Universe at large, in the form of a stage
magician with a curiously familiar surname. He may be a real
historical figure, but even so, at least his descendants have
played a big part in Vertigo "continuity."
of Prey #56
writer: Gail Simone
artists: Ed Benes and Alex Lei
This one caught your eye because the stunning art team of
Benes and Lei draw one thing better than anything else: hot
women. There. It's been said. It's true. Can't deny it. For
some, it might not even matter if the story had no coherence
or wit whatsoever.
course, with a new art team came a new writer: Gail Simone.
While she may be making a few nods to the eye candy that,
by its nature, this book can't really escape, she's grounded
those nods in a plot that already raises some questions that
should have been asked a long time ago.
has a place in continuity similar to that once held by The
Monitor just before Crisis On Infinite Earths. Because
we largely follow here adventures in just Batbooks, it's easy
to forget that people outside of Bruce Wayne's trusted circle
know of her, and at least when she first appeared, use her
must have a quasi-legendary status. And it would be only a
matter of time before someone of not too savory motivations
tries to take advantage of her tremendous resources.
also brings up a question long debated among fans: just where
the Bat-family draws the line between legal and ethical behavior.
Black Canary actually brings it up, though any vigilante probably
shouldn't throw stones. Distracted by fantastic shrimp, however,
she drops it for another time. But probably not for the last
hands, Barbara and Dinah have the rhythm of long-time girlfriends,
as they should be. Though Benes and Lei can't seem to draw
shrimp (why is food such a problem for comic book artists?),
they do otherwise have more in their arsenal besides hot women.
Actually, that's not fair: Oracle and Black Canary are indeed
attractive, but within reason, a rare trick in comics.
losing its way in the wake of Chuck Dixon's departure, the
book feels like it might be back on track. No crowbarred guest-appearances
by other heroes - just solid characterizations of the women
we've come to appreciate.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
this arc "Hardcore" promises to end on a truly spectacular
note, as befits scheduling it to come to a head with issue
#50. But as chapters go, this one is a little weak, with only
a few pages really delivering any meat to the story.
down Typhoid Mary in the streets, Matt doesn't quite know
what to do without compromising the ever more shaky fiction
that he and Daredevil are not the same man. Luckily his bodyguards
are never too far away, and with the combined might
of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Matt Murdock, the insane
Mary is overwhelmed.
Jessica has a tough time. Perhaps future issues of Alias
will resolve this question, but it seems like her power levels
fluctuate wildly according to the needs of the story. And
Cage, well, he's just tough. Bendis has used him really well
in this book, far better than he did in the aforementioned
Alias. He has a grudging friendship with Murdock that
has a particularly real tension to it. Yes, Bendis understands
men and some women.
all leading to something awful involving The Kingpin, and
in case Matt's pillow talk with Milla doesn't clue you in,
it's also going to be another round with the plotline Matt
has been trapped in since Frank Miller's run. Only the women's
faces change, and Bendis has clearly grown tired of waiting
for the second issue of Kevin Smith's Daredevil/Bullseye
it does kind of have to be that way, so we can trust that
Bendis won't really give us the same old thing with it. He's
definitely on his way to reinventing The Kingpin, which has
so far been chilling.
first time, though, there's a weakness to Maleev's art. The
huge battle among street-level heroes and villains has an
awkwardness that isn't just due to such things being awkward.
Everybody looks restrained, including the supposedly barking
loony Typhoid Mary, who in every panel wears the same bored
that's just New York, but her sane self is a soap opera actress;
there's no way that the less expressive side is the