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Batgirl #34
writer: Kelly Puckett
artists: Damion Scott and Robert Campanella

With this issue, Puckett points out a severe flaw in Batgirl's placement in the Bat-family. Though Cassandra has heart, she's no detective. And Puckett does an excellent job of showing her passion; at one point during her frustration over a case, she practices her punching so hard she makes her own hands bleed.

What Puckett fails to do, however, is attach a plot to this emotion. Though we get sucked in quickly enough with the story of a young boy's murder, the reasons why are never adequately explained. If Batman does any detective work, it's all not just offscreen but never mentioned, save for his holding up a single hair and using his Bat-DNA-vision to finger the shooter. At least, that's what it looks like he's doing.

This book has often fallen short on plot as an excuse to let loose with the action; it's frustrating when it promises to be something more and can't deliver. At least Scott and Campanella draw this book with a slightly less exaggerated style than before. Batgirl is now a fairly believable girl, instead of a mannequin with beachballs on her chest.


Beautiful Killer #3
writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
artist: Phil Noto

The cover screams "Final Conflict!" And in a rarity for a mini-series clearly intended to go on, this issue really does finish things. How it sets up the future remains a little unclear; for now, it's cool enough that Palmiotti and Noto managed to tell a satisfying spy movie homage in only three issues.

In fact, if Black Bull really wanted to make a bold move, it would be to put these two on an actual Bond adaptation. Noto's opening scenes channel Sean Connery movie posters while maintaining a modern sensibility. For those who don't understand just what it was about the swinging sixties, maybe this will help explain.

All I really know is that I look forward to wherever they take Brigit next, including the fabled movie adaptation with Jessica Alba.


Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target #1
writer: Kevin Smith
artist: Glenn Fabry

In a sensible commercial move, Marvel is aligning the appearance of at least one of the title characters to match the upcoming Ben Affleck film. Luckily, in an artistic move, Smith makes it happen pretty organically while providing one of the three most chilling comics this month. (My vote for the other two also appeared this week.)

Existing somewhat outside the continuity of the regular monthly, this book occurs three years after Bullseye's shocking murder of Karen Page. Clearly, a lot has happened to both hero and villain in between, with Daredevil's grief and rage fanned by an expose by J. Jonah Jameson.

Bullseye, however, would just as soon see himself as a reasonable businessman with a particular skill. And how Smith demonstrates all that just goes to prove how mundane evil can be. People consider superheroes to be unbelievable, and yet they rarely seem to complain about the villains. At Smith's word processor and Fabry's pen, the bad guys are all too realistic.


Fables #7
writer: Bill Willingham
artists: Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha

Though Willingham has borrowed a title and some inescapable elements from the classic Animal Farm, all is not what it seems in this upstate haven for the storybook people. By putting the three little pigs up front last issue, Willingham gave us a feint that distracted us completely from the real mastermind. And just as in Orwell's book, all talk of revolution really just hides another darker purpose.

Luckily for Snow White, her sister Rose Red has an eye for such things. Along the way we also pick up why the series' detective can't be called in on this case. It's an obvious reason, but again the story gets told so charmingly that it's easy not to think about.

If you haven't picked up on this series yet, I encourage you to pick up the impending trade paperback collection.


To the second page of reviews...

Derek McCaw


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