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The Best TV Show You Should Read This Week

Potter's Field #1
writer: Mark Waid
artist: Paul Azaceta

When Mark Waid took on the editorship of Boom! Studios, he made a pledge that new writers would be people that wanted to write comics, not just TV or movie guys dabbling. What happens, though, when an established comic book writer creates a title that just screams for him to start dabbling in TV?

You get Potter's Field. While quite obviously the makings of a taut and intriguing crime comic, the book would also easily fit as a 10 p.m television show on any network desperate to create a hit. That's not Waid's intent, necessarily, but if any comics writer deserves a sudden influx of television development money, Waid would be a good candidate.

What happens here is a revival of the classic pulp concept. A mysterious stranger gathers a team of operatives around him to carry out his mission of justice. Nobody knows much about him, but they understand and support his goal, to give a measure of peace to the anonymous dead by finding out who they are. Once he does, he scratches their name on a numbered headstone in New York City's Potter's Field where unidentified corpses are given a cursory resting place.

And that's it. The concept is loose enough that already the plot doesn't take you quite where you'd expect, but it's extremely satisfying. It won't be a formulaic procedural. Instead, it's a format designed to remember that crime affects people - that the John and Jane Does (and the protagonist accepts that name for himself) of New York City had names to go with their faces.

So there's the high concept. In between the covers, though, Waid provides sharp and efficient characterization to go with clever plotting. Teamed with artist Paul Azaceta, Waid doesn't waste a panel. Everything will come back around to make sense, and it doesn't feel like a cheat. It's all connected, and maybe you'll get the sense that's the point: we're all connected.

A book like this has to pop up every now and then to remind readers that Waid isn't just a writer who can make the unbelievable believable. He can make the mundane intriguing, wringing pathos out of a statistic. In Potter's Field, thousands of stories wait to be told, and he'll manage to make every one of them interesting.

My gut reaction on reading this book was, if it were on CBS, my wife would have it on the DVR right now. So grab this book, find someone you know that loves CSI: Forever or Criminal Minds and have them read it.

They'll be that much more in the know when Waid gets the TV deal he deserves, whether he wants it or not. (It's not a curse; it's a well intended prediction.)

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw


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