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Batgirl #33
writer: Kelley Puckett
artists: Damion Scott and Robert Campanella

Poor Brubaker and Johns have been slaving away over in the pages of Batman to set up a heartwarming reconciliation between Cassandra and David Cain. And now when Batgirl gets the chance, she kicks his ass instead.

You may also note that the penal system in Gotham City doesn't really check credentials too closely. Not only does the teenaged Cassandra Cain pass as a newspaper reporter in order to interview perhaps the most wanted man in town, she pummels Cain and several guards before walking out the front door. At least Scott and Campanella had the courtesy to show us those beaten guards.

As for why she confronts Cain, it has to do with the identity of a macguffin, which Batman easily discards in his rush to make Batgirl feel better. It's a wimpy week for the Gotham Knights.


Bone #49
story and art: Jeff Smith

The final battle approaches. Within the walled city, religious zealots battle over ancient prophecies, forbidding the traditional worship of dragons. Outside the city, Princess Thorn reveals herself in order to save a small child. And hidden in a manger, Phoney and Smiley Bone have begun minting their own gold coins.

Somehow, even as the political intrigue has grown and a strange philosophical debate has taken centerstage, this series hasn't lost its charm. We can still laugh as Phoney takes on giant sentient bees, even though the stakes are higher than any of them knows. Clearly, a bloodbath is coming, but somehow Smith will make it fun.


Detective Comics #775
writer: Greg Rucka
artists: Rick Burchett and Jim Royal

Despite Batman's warning, Checkmate keeps spilling their operations into Gotham City. Or are they just testing him? If they are, they're the ones that fail, as Batman…beats up a girl? While on the one hand, you've got to assume that in Checkmate, women are just as tough (if not tougher) than men, and Batman has fought Catwoman and Poison Ivy, to name a few. But somehow, this turn of events just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Of course, it's all because of his obsession with the fate of Sasha, which Rucka wraps up before leaving the book. Without warning, this whole arc suddenly takes on the feel of a bad chick flick. But it's not a total loss. Burchett draws a surprisingly mature-looking Bruce Wayne, which gives strength to the desperation that wars within him. We can believe that with the death of Vesper, Bruce realized that time is flying by.

Also, the back-up story, "The Hunt," concludes in an unexpected direction. The new vigilante is not the old one I'd thought it was, and as a sucker for costumes that just go completely out there in concept, I can hardly wait to see this guy again.


Fables #6
writer: Bill Willingham
artists: Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha

Maybe we should change the name of the book to "Allegories." For this second arc, Willingham borrows liberally from George Orwell's Animal Farm for both title and central image. But he's too good a writer to let us stop at the obvious. Though the pigs apparently lead the revolution, Willingham throws enough twists into the story to remind us that just like as in the fairy tales, things aren't exactly the way we think they are.

Snow White and Rose Red trek up to the farm where those fables who can't pass as human live in exile. There they lie in greater and greater discontent, and they do have a point. Near immortal, their vistas hold nothing greater than acres of farmland. But how are you going to keep them on the farm after they've seen Paree, er, New York?

Stepping over from Marvel, Buckingham lends his sure pencils to this arc. Leialoha's inks give the art a consistency from the previous arc. For those who remember the jarring changes on The Sandman from story to story, that appears not to be the plan here. It's still good, detailed work. And for this week, the image that sticks the most in my mind is a little corner of the princesses' discovery of the farm meeting. You will likely never see a better rendering of a scared and guilty badger in your life.


Derek McCaw


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