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
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.)