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Detective Comics #854 
25th-Jun-2009 07:45 pm
Today is a good day. Today is, in fact, a frabjous joyous day of days.

Not because it's hot and the sun's shining. Not because I've had a great day in therapy and I'm 'getting along fine'. Not because I've arranged my first succesful shift swap at the Science Museum and will be around to supervise the Grant family activity I developed. Not because I had a great lunch with silveronthetree, whom I hadn't seen in a while. Not even because I'm on the up with PhD work and actually discovered something sciencey this week.

No, today is a day I've been looking forward to for a while and fully lived up to expectations.

Today is .

Yes, I had been waiting for ruckawriter's run on Tec to start ever since I finished reading Five Lessons in Blood, even to the point of going to look at preview pages as a pick-me-ip. So much so that i was sure I was going to be disappointed.

So very much not.

Kate's had a bit of a reinvention when we saw he last; the closeted spoiled motivation-girl to Renee Montoya's Question. Now she's a tatooed, stylish determined fighter with some sort of childhood trauma in her past that she's working to overcome along with her most recent run ins with the Religion of Crime.

This new Kate Kane is liekly not closeted - she meets a girlfriend in a public place for breakfast after all - and lives with an army Colonel father, who knows and aides her in her fight, but, Rucka takes pains to point out, isn't the easy stereotype of a hard-pushing vicariously living father from the Richard Drake mold (Dinah Drake's pushy cop father, for those who aren't DC heroine geeks). Col. Kane balances  training with paternal concern, and is closest to being a Giles to Kate's Buffy. In the second feature, Vic Sage's old friend Tot is acting a bit Watcher-like to Renee. I do hope Rucka doesn't think action heroines need a man to support them. (Actually, I'm pretty certain he doesn't. Lots of good heroes have support. What is Batman without Alfred?).

The Crime Bible plot I can take or leave; the story of the issue is really just to establish Kate's character, supporting cast and the newest villain. Oh, and to script out the art.

And what art. Holy crap, the art. Andrew told me that J.H. Williams III was one of the best artists on DC's rosta, but somehow that didn't prepare me for this feast of gorgeous atr combined with a breathtaking layout. I worried a little that the layouts might be too busy, difficult to follow, but instead they just add not just to the drama of the action scenes, but the wonderful differentiation of the comic.

There are three separate styles being employed here, not just by Williams, but supplemented by Dave Stewart  on the colours, which relate to three different parts of Kate's life. The Batwoman pages are stark and dramatic, all colours muted except for the red on her costume and lips and a jagged bat shaped layout that adds urgency and action. When Kate's at a breakfast date, everything's simple, bold and almost cartoonish with traditional comic box-shaped panels; Anna doesn't know Kate very well and there's an act being put on for her: a facade of a normal life.  Another scene change later and we get to  see Kate and her Pop in her studio, and there's another art shift, somewhere between the hyperrealism low saturation Batwoman and the clean bold public Kate, there are lines of their faces and expressions in their eyes, breaking out of panels for flashbacks and emotion, then transitioning smoothly as Kate changes in and out of costume.

It's exactly what I want out of a comic, and graphic story telling, and I'm delighted to have another title to genuinely look forward to every week. Bring on next month.
25th-Jun-2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Wait, you're telling me that Greg Rucka is writing and the guy who drew Promethea is on art?!

Rucka single-handedly saved Elektra (for one graphic novel's worth, anyway) with a reboot in Everything Old Is New Again, which I loved.

Which reminds me, must get the last Queen and Country...
25th-Jun-2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is correct.

Rucka also co-wrote Gotham Central and more or less created the character of Renee Montoya. He brings us arse-kicking lesbians and he brings them well.
25th-Jun-2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
Lots to like here. The one thing that really grabbed me is Kate's dad. I don't think we've seen a father like him before. Never mind that he is apparently both a military man and a Jew (something that is uncommon outside Israel, but that he shares with Atticus Kodiak, star of most of Rucka's books). I love the idea of a father and daughter team of tough Jews.

I also totally loved the Renee story. Did you catch that, like was done with Charlie in the old series, her hair color changed? That hasn't been used regularly with either Question in a long time and I like seeing it back.
25th-Jun-2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
I did! And I was interested that is went blonde. Previously it went from a curly/wavey brown to a straight black, but I think I can deal with the gas having a variable effect depending on how her hair is treated. Going blonde was a good look for her.

Also I love Cully Hamner's art, too, which I first encountered in black: Lightning Year One, on which he worked with Rucka's wife :)

Tot and Renee running an internet Question service pleases me.
25th-Jun-2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I first encountered Cully Hanmer in the early 90s on a now-forgotten and very weird comic called Green Lantern: Mosaic. I was very glad to see that he made a comeback in the past three years (going back to the recent Blue Beetle series).
29th-Jun-2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
I'd like to say two things.

1. I was glad to read your little bit about Detective before I picked it up. I did read it, and honestly it's great reading. Sure JH Williams is up to his standard, which is gorgeous but I love how much he makes Batwoman stand out. I wish they devoted the whole book to her. But this is the only Bat book I will read. The rest read as retreads on old ground with no real anything I can see. At least I have this and Secret Six. Oy...

2. With reading...and then giving back the Fables crossover. Your last bit did ring in my head about Jack but of the whole "And now Fables leaks into...". This entire thing was a mess that made really no headway into anything.

We end up with Jack, Gary and Babe on the road to adventure because...ummm I'm really not too sure why. I guess I'll never know because like hell I am wasting the cash. It go rid of the literals, who we aren't too sure why anyone cares about and now Gary and Jack are just merely...mortal I guess? I don't care, but it sounds like Willingham couldn't have something greater then his Bigby, and thus made it so. Even if it's from his own dumbass mind.

As for the Fables themselves, again the main story makes me laugh on how sad it went downhill and again, I cannot care if Blue comes back, Red recovers and they defeat the Ultimate Evil Mark II.

But again, thank you for the mini review of Detective. I had it in my stack but the review perked my ears and eyes to read it in store and to find myself pleasently surprised.
29th-Jun-2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
I gave up on Fables after my last review, and am finding I don't miss it at all.

It's a remarkably freeing realisation.

Oh, and I quite like Morrison's Batman and Robin. You might want to give it a try?
30th-Jun-2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, after your review, I didn't even buy what was on reserve for me because...it was literally all "Been There, Done That, here's the T-shirt to prove it.". So yeah, not missing it and my wallet is fatter!

And I'm poking into Morrison's Batman and Robin book. My like of the man's work goes up and down but the first issue didn't put me off so I'll give it a few months.
30th-Jun-2009 04:02 am (UTC)
Great, now I've got to wait for this to come out in trade paperback format. Damnit. Thanks for the review, which is going to drive me insane with the waiting.
30th-Jun-2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
If it makes you feel worse about it all: this is all your fault, for you introduced me to Rucka.
2nd-Jul-2009 03:22 am (UTC)
It does make me feel worse! What have I done?
2nd-Jul-2009 06:37 am (UTC)
You left Gotham Central lying around last November.
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