Tag Archives: Scott Snyder

Only quick shots this week. Winner is Cloak and Dagger 2!


1. Spider Island: Cloak and Dagger #2
(Marvel comics)                                9.2
OMG Emma Rios draws the most disgusting spiders! And Nick Spencer is a genius writer: ‘You just unchain me here, and I’ll go ahead and make you look like the smartest man who ever got his nuts chopped off by a light dagger.Dagger has some attitude, I love it! Plus, smart writing (Spencer reminds me of my lessons in history), and Cloak and Dagger have never looked better. This was fucking awesome, it makes me want to curse, it was so good!


2. The Authority. Book 1: Relentless (tpb) (Wildstorm)                                 8.9
This, back in 2000, was what got me balls deep into comics. I was always reading X-men, but after the Grant Morrison run, my devotion of the comic book medium was wavering a bit. This series was the first thing to point me away from the stereotypical, mainstream comic books about capes and tights. But it’s not just from my personal reading experience that I think this is a majorly important comic book. Just like Miracle Man and Watchmen, this was one of those steps in deconstructing superheroes. In this case by showing a group of heroes who are pro-active about changing the world and a bit more radical than your average superhero. I think this is my favorite series of Warren Ellis written superhero stories, and the first time that artist Brian Hitch stepped up his game, to look as good as it gets.
3. Severed #3 (Image comics)                                                                                              8.9
On the first page of this excellent horror story set in the 1920’s, it suddenly struck me that Attila Futaki’s art reminds me of Windsor McKay’s art on the Little Nemo newspaper strip. This story is crafted extremely well, with the first couple of pages of the first issue showing a flash forward of the main character as an old man who’s missing an arm. Throughout the rest of the series where we follow him as a twelve-year-old, you are waiting for this boy to get his arm chopped of around every corner. Brilliant stuff, genuienly creepy. This is horror at it’s very best.

 4. Spontaneous #4 (Oni press)                                                                                         8.8
The plot about a mysterious string of spontaneous combustions stays very… …mysterious. However, this issue things take a turn as we learn that the cause of everything that´s going on lies closer to the main characters then they´d ever imagined. Once again beautifully drawn and very humanly written.
5. X-men Regenisis (Marvel comics)                                                                              7.8
This issue explains how the X-men get divided between the newly formed school of Wolverine in Westchester and the Cyclops led militarized mutant enclave of Utopia. I was shocked and perhaps a bit disappointed by Storm staying in Utopia, and shocked yet pleasantly surprised to see Emma heading for Westchester. …and then disappointed again by her staying.
6. Action Comics #2 (DC comics)                                                                                    7.5
The art looks rushed and badly inked. From the backup material, it becomes clear that it’s mostly the inks that are to blame. Because the pencils by Rags Morales look great. Otherwise a perfectly likable story of a vulnerable Superman and Lex Luthor who may be manipulated by a greater force.
7. Spider-Island Spider-Woman (Marvel comics)                                               7.4
Pretty solid art by Giusupe Gamuncoli, combined with a story by Fred Van Lente that very effectively portrays Jessica Drew as the insecure heroine that we have gotten to know over the years. In this one-shot she has to rescue Alicia Masters, the Thing’s blind girlfriend. Reed Richards wants Master’s blood to contain the basis for an antidote for what’s happening with the whole Spider-Island thing. In the course of the issue, of course she has to face down with the Thing and also, The Gypsy Moth?
8. The Authority. Book 3: Earth Inferno and other stories (tpb) (Wildstorm) 7.4
The cover of this trade credits Frank Quietly as artist before Chris Weston, inside however, the first half of the Earth Inferno story arc is drawn by Weston. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, when you expect Quietly art, Weston is a bit of a letdown. I understand however, that this was the era that this title met a lot of misfortune. Still, I’d like the publisher to be more honest about the insides. Fun little book where writer Mark Millar explores the characters a bit more than his predecessor. Which doesn’t mean the scale of the action is less, this arc sees Earth trying to expunge all life. This also has two nice little one and done stories I had never read before!

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Runner ups for week 41: Swamp Thing 2, The Rinse 2, Marvel universe vs Wolverine 3&4

2. Swamp Thing #2 (DC comics)
This isn´t a gay thing or something, but man am I hot for Scott. Comic writer Scott Snyder that is. For a relative newcomer he has a remarkable track record. I´ve read all but one of the series he has worked on and loved them all (American Vampire being the exception). This newest incarnation of Swamp Thing, continues this trend. The second issue of this series was wordy, very wordy. But not in a bad way. This issue explains whether or not Alec Holland ever really was Swamp Thing. It also explores a new take on the Swamp Thing saga, as we learn that the Swamp Thing is a legacy character. According to this, the swamp monster that we have grown to know and love is only the most recent incarnation of the living embodiment of ‘the green’. In this issue a representative of the parliament of trees offers Alec Holland the chance to become Swamp Thing, and as such to become their greatest knight and take the fight to the new bad guy Sethe. After his decision, he gets chased out of his motel by a mob of Sethe’s twisted walking corpses, only to be saved by the person he really didn’t want to meet. Really great art by Yanick Paquette once again, with things like birds and plants which actually look like the way they do in the real world. This is my surprise hit out of the 52 new books by DC, I had never read any Swamp Thing, but this offers the perfect jumping on point. Art:9                   Writing:8.5              Overall:8.7

3. The Rinse #2 (Boom studios)
I continue to be amazed at how exciting writer Gary Phillips has made this story about money laundering. This should be boring and dry, but instead it’s both intelligent and informative as well as raw and thrilling. Most of all though, this is one of those very original series, which we only get few and far between. That’s why I’ll savor this story. Sure there are crime comics, mostly they handle with fucked up people doing fucked up things. But this is something else entirely, the main character is a successful small time hustler who gets tied up in a very big case. Before he knows it he’s got both mobsters and police after him. Phillips has infused his characters with a great deal of humanity. All of them, no matter how small their role, have an extraordinary strong and realistic presence on the page. And to make this click even better, once again we are treated to a perfect cliffhanger. The art by Mark Laming seems a bit cleaner, compared to the first issue. It looks like Laming’s gotten confident enough to do his own thing and isn’t leaning as much on influences from Sean Phillips on Criminal. Now I’m wondering if publishing this review will get me followed by the anti-money laundering bot again…
Art:8               Writing:9                    Overall:8.5

4. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3-4 (Marvel comics)
This series follows the events of the world being overtaken by an airborne virus that turns people (including those with superpowers) into aggressive, base savages. In the end, it’s up to Wolverine, Captain America and the Punisher to take a stand against the infected (lead by the Hulk), while Marvel’s top scientist try to fix things. Great covers, beautiful art and everything that would make a die-hard marvel reader excited: unexpected team-ups; graphic violence (the Hulk bites Wolverine’s arm off); characters that have never interacted with each other, driven to do so out of sheer despair; plus some dramatic action scenes featuring a virtual who’s-who of the Marvel universe, all rendered in really intense, dark art. The art by Laurence Campbell and Lee Loughridge reminds me a little of Sean Philips. Which talking of whom, this series reminds me a bit too much of the original Marvel Zombies by Philips and Robert Kirkman. I think that this reads much better, because it’s not intended as jokey/mondo/exploitative as Marvel Zombies was. Also, I don’t understand why the ‘zombies’ are still cognizant but seem to have devolved a couple of thousand years. They know no science, but only magic, and both Hulk and The Thing have kind of donned a shamanistic wardrobe. This series was really well written by Jonathan Mayberry, one of the most underrated writers at the big two. I would really like to see him write Marvel´s next big summer event. Ultimately though, I have to say I was disappointed by the ending of the series. There’s no real resolution, just a two year later epilogue that leaves a lot of stuff open. Still that doesn´t take away from this being one hell of a romp through the darkest corners of the Marvel universe.

#3 Art:8.5                   Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.5
#4 Art:8.5                   Writing:7.8                 Overall:8.2

Book of the week: Batman 1

Batman 1 variant cover by Ethan van Sciver

1. Batman #1 (DC comics)
Again with a Scott Snyder book? Yes, again with a Scott Snyder book. I understand how much it looks like I have turned into a mindless Snyder fanboy as of late (last week his Image book Severed was my book of the week for the second time in a row, and his first issue of Swamp Thing was my third favorite book of the week). But this man has some major story-telling props, he’s a fan of the medium and an accomplished novelist. Apparently, those things make for a deadly combination when writing comic books, whether they be of the horror kind or the superhero ones. But I digress…

I was honestly worried that the DC reboot would interfere with the quality of Scott Snyder’s magnificent run on Batman, which started back in Detective Comics. If this first issue is a good measure, my worries were uncalled for. Not only is this a perfect continuation of the noir-ish story he was already telling, it’s also a damned good first issue for entirely new readers (while small sayings and Easter eggs are there for readers of Snyder’s Detective Comics run to remind them, that this story is naturally progressing). The rebooting stays at a bare minimum in this title, aside from Jim Gordon not having grey hair anymore, I can´t see any changes in the continuity.

Jim Gordon by Greg Capullo

Look who got his hair dyed, it's Jim Gordon as drawn by Greg Capullo in Batman #1 (DC comics).

The story picks up with Bruce returning to Gotham and relieving Dick Greyson of his duty of playing Batman, after traveling the world in Batman Inc. Besides that we see Bruce, Dick, Tim and Damian visiting an elite party, where Bruce unveils his plans for the Gotham skyline. Later we see Batman meeting up with detective Harvey Bullock, to investigate a weird, sadistic, ritualistic murder which reveals a message for Bruce Wayne. The issue ends with a cliffhanger showing DNA traces of the culprit found at the scene of the crime pointing to someone very close to Batman.

Batman rogues by Greg Capullo

It's a couple of Batman's enemies as rendered by Greg Capullo in DC's Batman #1.

It is very smartly written, as a narrative we read a speech Bruce Wayne gives about Gotham, while the issue starts out with a small breakout at Arkham Asylum introducing (and showcasing artist Greg Capullo marvelous new renditions of) Batman’s rogues gallery. Later on in the story we learn about Bruce’s new contact lenses, which have incorporated facial recognition software. This allows for a couple of caption boxes to introduce all of the secondary characters. In an interview with Snyder over at War Rocket Ajax I heard him say that this story arc will build on all his previous Batman work (including the Gates of Gotham miniseries). This excited me to no end, because I really liked the villain that got introduced in Gates of Gotham. In this issue we are already seeing the seeds of how this all may connect to Gates of Gotham (Wayne enterprises is aggressively investing in Gotham’s future architecture).

Batman and the bats by Greg Capullo

This is how good Greg Capullo can make Batman look, art from Batman #1 by DC comics.

And, (oh boy) the art. I’m not very familiar with Greg Capullo, in my mind he was ‘another one of those Image’ artists. But oh my God is he good! He is the perfect successor of Jock and Francisco Francevilla. It’s dark, it’s dynamic, it’s detailed, highly stylized and a bit exaggerated. Capullo was born to draw the Caped Crusader and it looks like he’s having a good time doing so. Especially the scenes where Bruce is in costume look fantastic! In the plain clothes scenes I get the sense that Capullo’s style isn’t really my cup of tea. But notwithstanding my personal taste, this looks ravishing.
Art: 9.5                 Writing: 9           Overall: 9.2

Book of the week 37: Severed #2

Sorry, I just can’t get it up… My book of the week review, that is. I’ve got a pretty busy week with work flowing into my evening hours, so instead of my normal (and timely) 600 word review, these are my abbreviated thoughts on Severed #2.

Book of the week 37.
1. Severed #2
(Image comics)

Okay, Scott Snyder, Scot Tuft and Attila Futaki have quickly become comic book Gods in my book. In just two issues, they have created a world so realistic, so raw, yet brimming with boyish naivety and childlike optimism. This slow burning horror story set in the 1920’s really is an amazing, unique endeavor in today’s market. Last issue we met the main character, 12-year-old Jack Garron. He wants to meet his natural father, and to do so he ran away from his foster home and jumped on a freight train. This initially didn’t turn out very good. But this issue Jack’s luck takes a turn as he gets his two sole possessions back from the child molesting train-cop and finds himself that rarest thing of all in the hobo life… …an  actual friend. But even his new-found friend is wearing a mask. We also learn that last issue’s villain Mr. Porter is a man of many names and it’d be more accurate to call him ‘the salesman’ (a vocation fitting perfectly in the historic context of this story), also we learn that he’s no mere sharp toothed child molester, but something far more terrifying. Meanwhile it’s very interesting to see how Jack is fooling himself about his background (after he’s learned that he’s a foster child, nothing seems real to him anymore other than his father inspired hobo life) and how he handles his first big disappointment.

The art by Attila Futaki is just as unique as the story. For lack of a better word, this feels kinda European (which is a bit ironic as both artist and reviewer are European). With his painterly style and cinematic storytelling Futaki lets his art breath and gives each panel enough room to maximize atmospheric effects. Just like last issue, I like Futaki’s color pallet, which strongly and effectively affects the ambiance of the scenes.
Art: 9.5 (some spots not as detailed as to make this perfect)
Writing: 10 (perfect!)
Overall: 9.7 (Oh, and check out next issue’s cover, now that’s creepy!)

Runner ups for week 37: Crawl to me 2, Swamp Thing 1, Jezus Hates Zombies 1

2. Crawl to me #2 (IDW Publishing)
I reacted quite strongly (with my whole body) to this issue, because of this follows a guttural review (sorry, I’ll be swearing up a storm), describing my reactions as I was reading. Just to be clear: This is a horror book about a young family who is vacating their new home were something is horribly wrong. [written at page three:] The first couple of pages had me going ‘What the Fuck?!?!’, almost every panel. [Written at page nine:] Holy shit, I know this can’t be real. Ryan, the main character also knows this, but holy shit is this working on my nerves. We’ve landed smack dab in crazy town. [Written at page ten:] And just when you think things have turned back to normal, people have no eyes. This is some fucked up shit! [Written at page fifteen:] OMG she’s just cutting her hair, but it’s SO fucking creepy!!! [Written at page sixteen:] But I guess that means Ryan isn’t crazy (or at least not the only one whose crazy), as the scissors are talking to her… ‘You know what you have to do right?’. Oh no. No. Not the baby, right? [Written at page seventeen:] And then it looks like the baby’s gonna bite it… Shit man… [Written at page eighteen:] I’m clenching my fist here and have a weird feeling in my stomach… Things are not right. [Written at page twenty-two:] And it ends with the creepy child molester’s belt buckle. Wow, this went fast, but it was scarier than a fucking roller coaster!
Art:9               Writing:9        Overall:9

3. Swamp Thing #1 (DC comics)
It took me a while to get into this issue. I didn’t really care for the first half, but the story really picks up in the last third. That’s the part where we learn about a dreadful new villain (emphasizing once more that Swamp Thing is unmistakably a horror title). This part also shows how Alec Holland is plagued by ´the green´ (Swamp Thing’s connection to all of the world’s flora) and his memories of being Swamp Thing. While I wasn’t particularly excited about the writing, the art though… Oh, my God can this Yanick Paquette guy draw. He was already wonderful recently on Batman Inc., but with this series he has even improved upon that. For a random example of his unequalled artistic qualities, the first page of this book has the best looking pigeons I’ve ever seen in a comic book. They don’t just look like random birds, colored to look like pigeons. These are some realistic goddamned pigeons. Also in my review of Justice League #1, I said Superman’s new costume looks kind of like a royal ceremonial armor. …Well scratch that, in this issue he looks like a fascist superhero… Which I bet is not what DC was aiming for…
Art:9.5                        Writing:8        Overall:8.8

4. Jesus Hates Zombies. A Jurassic kinda life #1 (215 Ink)
This was one of my favorite reads in some time. Especially the number of chuckles (and even laugh out louds) it got from me made it rocket up the chart. The story by Stephen Lindsay doesn’t particularly make a lot of sense (however, I haven’t read the first Jesus Hates Zombies series, so who knows?), but if you want to read something completely different, you should really try it out. While the main character is Jesus (H.?) Christ, this isn’t your momma’s Jesus. For one thing, this Jesus curses like a sailor. It’s surprisingly refreshing to read the son of God go: ‘Sweet candy cane strap-ons! Is it really you, buddy? Fucking miracles never cease!’ Other important characters in this are Abe Lincoln (Jesus’ main wingman in prehistoric times), Benjamin Franklin, (SPOILERS) Elvis Presley and the animated wheelchair of Steven Hawkins (?)… The story: Jesus and Abe are stuck in prehistoric times, which for some reason is becoming infected with a zombie epidemic. They’re struggling with the decision of just getting back or saving reality as they know it. I thought that beyond the Walking Dead I was zombied out, but this proves me wrong. It actually a very good story, both exciting and funny and accompanied by outstanding, energetic artwork by Belgium artist Rob Croonenborghs. The book is black and white, uses a lot of effective dot patterns for extra texture. The only problem I had with this is the format. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with a smaller format, I thought some of the more diminutive panels became a bit unclear because of the scale. But seriously go check it out, it’s a ‘gloriously fun-filled prehistoric romp’ of 64 (!) pages.
Art:8.5                        Writing:9        Overall:8.7

Runner ups for week 35: Flashpoint 5, The Outsider and Gates of Gotham

3. Flashpoint #5 (DC comics)
Holy shit, was I giddy for this mini-series and this final issue in particular. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited by a mainstream superhero comic. Yeehah! Some background for the casual comic reader: This September publisher DC comics of Batman and Superman fame has stopped all of their series and will start out with 52 new ones, that all start from scratch. It looks like they are throwing away all the previous continuity and introducing the characters in new and exciting ways. In the previous months, it slowly became clear that their blockbuster summer event title Flashpoint would somehow be the catalyst for all the changes that were to come. And that is why I was so excited for this issue, this conclusion forms the creative explanation for what the hell DC is doing! In this issue we learn that one of the heroes is actually responsible for changing the time stream and causing a ripple effect that alters reality into that of Flashpoint. Because this reality is whack like crack he eventually undo’s his actions. However he is not capable of putting things back exactly as they were and that allows for all the stuff DC is doing in their 52 new number ones. I loved this very much, Kubert’s art was a little inconsistent but otherwise this book, in my opinion is the best event series since Marvel’s Civil War. Some quick remarks:
*There’s a great big fight in this issue, but sadly we don’t see much of it.
*There used to be 52 alternate realities in the DC mythology, why did only three get mixed into the new status quo? What about the other timelines?
* How do the time stream alternations make everyone in the new DC younger?
*Congratulations to DC for a very entertaining and hopefully successful transition!
Art: 7.5           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.2

4-5. Flashpoint. The Outsider #2 & #3 (DC comics)
If you just can’t get enough of the world of Flashpoint than the Outsider is a series you should really pick up. Strong writing by James Robinson and solid art by Javi Fernandez make for one hell of a read that will hold up even if you don’t care for Flashpoint at al. Basically it’s the story of an Indian anti-hero/villain/industrialist/millionaire who uses his superpowers to get what he wants. He’s pretty ruthless, is involved with the resistance against Aquaman and Wonder Woman out of business principles and is targeted by either one of those warring parties. This series mainly revolves around the Outsider figuring out who wants him dead and then trying to stay one step ahead of them. If you want cool visuals, this book’s got it: from a fantastic redesign of Martian Manhunter, to a 1970’s Calcutta ligthsaber gang war; newcomer Javi Fernandez makes this book look stellar. In the second issue the art took a small dip, but was still very good, the final issue rocked hard again. Also, this book makes a cool little nod to old DC continuity where there are 52 multiple alternate earths in different timelines, the Outsider has dimension hopping technology and weaponizes it in the third issue. Both issues got 8’s all around.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

6.  Batman. Gates of Gotham #5 (DC Comics)
Aaaaaaaand the awesome sauce that is Trevor McCarthy returns to grace the pages with his artwork once more. I love this guy’s art so freaking much: from the creases and folds in the cowls, to the architecture and the perfect usage of toner dots. I’m seriously looking at this guy’s earlier stuff. This final issue was a lot better than the last one, both on the writing (Scott Snyder is back on board with this one) and on the art. I can’t believe how many people have been involved with this miniseries, (story-wise three, art-wise, art and layouts four, I believe). This series wraps up pretty good (and much better than I had anticipated after last issue), and was successful in that it provided an entertaining story, introduced a great new villain, delved more into the relations between the different Bat family members and offered a little resolve concerning the changes that are coming with the DC line-wide reboot.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

My pick of the week will be online tomorrow, if anybody cares.

Book of the week 31: Severed #1

The theme of the my comic book reading this week was the number one. Besides a one-shot and a few books that did not fit in theme, I read ten number one issues. Let’s just say it’s a good warming up for DC’s September reboot. I’m really glad with my selection of books this week, many high scores and even a solid 10 in Severed #1. Also I’m delighted with the selection of different publishers books I’ve sampled this week, ranging from IDW, Dynamite, DC, Image, Abstract Studio, Marvel to SLG.

1. Severed #1 (Image comics)

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

I had not heard anything about this title before hand and went in without any expectations (except for expecting Scott Snyder to deliver one hell of a story). It was while looking at the cover though, that I first started to fall in love with this book. The cover explicitly channels the look of the eighties horror movie posters I’ve grown up with. Furthermore, a great design element on the cover is the use of the art nouveau-ish decorative borders (coincidentally also used in the Snyder co-plotted Batman: Gates of Gotham miniseries), which even incorporate the logo of Image comics.

The first thing that struck me, when I opened the book, was the color. The first scene is a flash-forward, (technically the rest of the book is a flashback, but whatever…) set in or around the nineteen sixties, which is most apparent (besides the television performance of Elvis and the distinctive furniture) by the orange hue of the living room wallpaper. In the following flashback, which takes place in 1916, the scenes all have their own color palate, which doesn’t pop off the page as does the first sequence, but are still very vibrant and dashing to look at.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

The second thing that stood out to me where the pencils, I’ve never seen the work of artist Attila Futaki before, and I’ve never seen anything like it. In fact, the art felt so new to me, that I had to warm up to it a few pages before I started loving it. I’d say it’s a bit painterly, yet has a very classic aesthetic which harkens back to the more detailed and loose art styles that could be found in old EC comics. As it turns out Futaki is a Hungarian artist, who has recently been awarded the Hungarian Zorad Erno award for best artist of 2010. Judging by the art in this issue, that prize was well deserved. It’s a really unique style and perfect to set the mood for this horror series.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Writing-wise the first sequence, set in the sixties, is used as a rather cliché framing device to set the story up. However, since this story seems to be steeped in eighties horror movies, certain clichés are just part of the territory and in that context work like a charm.  In the first few pages of the flashback we get to know Jack, a talented violin player in his early teens, who after a heartfelt and good-humored bedtime conversation with his mother runs off into the night to live the life of a hobo. “See the country… Play the streets for nickels…” He wants to walk in the minstrel footsteps of his father. Things almost immediately go haywire. But at least he meets up with some hobo’s who may or may not be helping him out. We also get introduced to Fredrick who is taken out of an orphanage by one mister Porter, who is likely to be the villain throughout this series. And what a classic villain he is. Porter is introduced as working for General Electric and Frederick has been selected for an apprenticeship at his company. In the car the boy and Mr. Porter talk about business. When the boy asks about Porter’s rough way of dealing with things, the man says with a grin: “Behind these pearly whites, I got razor sharp teeth.”  When the boy laughs at this reply, Porter continues straight-faced: “I’m serious, Freddy. These babies are all show. Underneath… My real ones are sharp as knives. But sales is all about appearances and it’s hard to sell anything if you look like a shark.” This moment had me laughing out loud, because of the absurdity of the dialogue, yet it provides a horrible feeling of foreboding. This sequence stands as a good example of how the writing of the team of Scott Snyder and his newcomer, childhood friend Scott Tuft works. It hits on all the right notes; a little humor; a little drama’ some emotion; excitement; and a lot of ominous subtext.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

After reading I concluded that this may very well be one of those special cases where a comic book is actually crafted and executed perfectly. The first issue of Severed is genuinely creepy, funny, moving and as intriguing as should be expected from a first issue.
Art: 10      Writing: 10     Overall: 10

Book of week 28: Batman. Gates of Gotham #2

A light week (at least for reading comics) this week. In between my work, school, internship and some family business I managed to read 12 comics this week. Most of them recentish and three of them from this week. I tried a kid friendly book which amazed me, a biographical comic which disappointed me to no end and a major event epilogue which I didn’t give a toss about.

Book of the Week 28: Batman. Gates of Gotham #2

Gates of Gotham 2

The beautifull cover of Gates of Gotham #2 by Kyle Higgins

In this five issue mini-series by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgens, Gotham is faced with a threat from the past. Which is great for readers interested in both the history, geography and architecture of comic books oldest fictional city. In the first issue three bombs went off at the three most important bridges of Gotham. Consequently the whole Gotham-based Bat family works together to find out who is targeting Gotham and why. After a little research Tim Drake aka Red Robin finds out the connection between the bridges: in the eighteenth century they were all built by the same engineers in commission of three men, the ancestors of Bruce Wayne, Oswald Cobblepot and Thomas Elliot. For those in the know of course, these are the civilian identities of Batman and his enemies the Penguin and Hush. This issue continues the Bat team’s investigation as Damian and Cassandra Cain stake out the Penguin’s hideout and Dick Greyson (the local Batman when Bruce isn’t around) goes after Hush. But as it turns out their mysterious adversaries are one step ahead of them and weren’t nearly done blowing stuff up.

Just like the first issue, the story keeps switching between the current story of the Bat family trying to find the bridge bomber and flashbacks to the eighteenth century. Last issue’s flashbacks showed the commissioning and building of the bridges, while this one goes into the origin of the new adversary who turns out to be not one but two bad guys, namely The Gates of Gotham. This has to be one of the most inventive origins I have read in a long while and the way it’s told through the flashbacks also shows signs of true craftsmanship.

One of the strengths of this book is the way Snyder handles the relationships between the various heroes and heroines that revolve around Bruce Wayne. While relationships are a vital part of the current storyline he is writing in Detective Comics, Gates of Gotham provides the author with a vehicle to work with a bigger ensemble of very diverse characters. And he really pulls it off well. Each of the characters has a unique personality and Snyder leaves enough room in the story for dialogues that showcase some of the characters’ emotions. Especially the intense banter between Damian and Cassandra is effective and shows Damian’s insecurities when faced with someone who (just as he) could have one day led the league of assassins, but now finds herself working for the other side.

However it is not just the writing that made this book my pick of the week, that Kyle Higgins sure can draw. I’m not sure if I have seen his work before, but he really is pulling it all out on this series. His artistry is most easily evident at the breaks between the flashbacks and the current story where sepia toned scenes of a brightly optimistic Gotham make way for the harsh, dark grit of a modern day Gotham crime scene. Both in the present and in the flashbacks Higgens uses a lot of dots for a cool retro yet edgy effect, while both on the covers and in the flashbacks he gently shows some Art Deco inspirations. It really is gorgeous to look at.

This book left me with one minor irk: On the third story page the second panel seems to be missing a name. It is just blanked out. The caption box in the same panel explains which name it is, but I was wondering if this blanking out was done accidently or on purpose. In the last case I really don’t understand why they’d do that. But you know what? We’ve got Twitter, why not ask the creator himself?
Art: 8,5 Writing: 8            Overall: 8,3

08/29/11 Update: Last week I learned about DM’s in twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to find a reply from Scott Snyder, stating that it was indeed a typo. I understand that we’re all human and prone to make mistakes. However, I’d say that big publishers like Marvel and DC have enough editorial staff looking at these things that such errors should be caught before publication… Here’s to hoping it will be corrected in the collected edition.