We have a rare
occurrence this week. A comic book syzygy, if you will. Kevin Smith
leaves one book as he starts another for a different company, and both
went on sale today, June 26.
While it may
take me more than a day to get through the rest of this week's comics,
it seemed appropriate to separate out the Smith books, and see just
how they stack up against each other.
#14 The Sound of Violence, Part Two: Pitch
writer: Kevin Smith
artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks
looks like Smith will leave this book without terribly shaking up the
status quo he himself established. As this issue's serious wounding
of Connor indicates, there's a lot of confusion to explore over having
two Green Arrows, and Smith himself has barely tapped it. Moreover,
this marks the first time since the '60's that Oliver Queen has had
to look at himself as responsible.
Those two concepts
alone are worth keeping for the character. As befits these more serious
weights on Ollie's shoulders, the tone of the book is far grimmer than
Smith has played before. Gone are the sometimes crude innuendos that
have become a Smith hallmark. Instead, the characters have been stripped
of all pretense by the shooting of Connor; for at least one issue, Green
Arrow is about family.
It's cool to see
Smith just tell his story without trying too hard to be clever. (Granted,
he is clever, that's why he's popular.) Even without particularly
glib dialogue (there's no room for it), he has a keen grasp of plotting
Part of that, of
course, comes from the sharp layouts of Hester and Parks. Though there's
a blockiness to their combined style, it's clear from this issue that
Hester, in particular, really knows how to tell a story. A simple page
of Onomatopoeia discovering that he failed to kill Connor could have
easily gone without the news broadcast. Hester captures the confusion,
resignation, then determination to finish the job.
The only thing
confusing about it is the true nature of the villain's abilities. Because
he repeats every sound effect he hears, and all of his actual violence
occurs off-camera, it isn't clear if the sound effects actually are
a power. Does he really shoot a gun, or is the word enough to have the
Though I look forward
to Brad Meltzer's run, Smith's revival has been a fun ride. And I thank
him, too, for firmly establishing that the Green Arrows are not
meta-humans. We have enough of them.
the Black Cat:
The Evil That Men Do #1 What's New, Pussycat?
writer: Kevin Smith
artists: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson
And so Smith takes
on the challenge of making an obscure character popular. With a largely
male fan base, picking a character that has the presumed sexual proclivities
of a cat and getting the Dodsons to draw her really isn't that much
of a challenge. (Try Thundra or something.) But then, as Smith's appearance
on The Tonight Show proves, the real issue is whether or not
you can get some guy's heads out of Maxim and into comics.
All that innuendo
he dropped from Green Arrow? Smith shipped bucketfuls over here.
After an opening page establishing that we will be reading a murder
mystery, three pages get devoted to peeping tom shots of Felicia Hardy
in the shower, with only strangely opaque water keeping us from seeing
all her glory. (It's pretty amazing, really; I've always found
water to be transparent, even in Playboy.)
From the get-go,
this is not a book for parents to buy their kids after they saw that
appears, we get that patented Kevin Smith witty banter, dripping with
pop culture references that prove they still have AOL Time Warner in
the Marvel Universe. At least he keeps the quips brief enough that they
might just fit the action.
And it's pretty
rousing action, too; for a guy whose films tend toward the static (granted,
he's getting better), Smith writes a good fight and chase scene. He
also shows Spider-Man using the average criminal's fear of him in an
interesting way. It's almost Batmanesque, boding well for Smith's upcoming
run on The Amazing Spider-Man and making me really miss the lost
opportunity for The Brave And The Bold.
The cat and the
spider soon cross paths, tracking down two different deaths with one
factor in common. Their literal collision may seem forced for the sake
of the plot, but it serves as a reminder that Felicia tends to leap
before she looks, and hints that she may still have her bad luck power.
On the flipside,
both heroes seem really slow to draw a connection between the villain's
name and his abilities. It's pretty original, and too sadly fitting
for Felicia's high-class world. She must not listen to Guns N Roses,
even if Smith does.
It's a pretty good
start for the series, though like too many of Marvel's female-centered
books, the art makes it pretty hard to explain that you bought it for