Detective Comics #854
I'll be damned...this was a pretty good comic book. OK, we all know who Batwoman (or Les-Bat as I like to call her) is; we know the big stink about her introduction and long-shelved series; but beyond that we know very little. Rucka here attempts to correct that, and truthfully does a pretty masterful job. Without relying on heavy explanatory exposition, we learn an awful lot about Kate Kane here: her family history; her attitude; her relationship to the Bat; her work methods; her lack of a day job; her gadgets and base of operations; her romantic status; her support staff/"Alfred" stand-in; her limitations and reservations; and her current mission and new enemy. And yet we learn all that without the narrative ever turning into a rote recitation of key facts. It flows incredibly well. Really the only thing we don't get here is any real insight as to why she chose to become Batwoman, or why she feels it's a role she was meant to/has to play. But I would imagine that's to come later.
So as a set-up/introductory issue, it works very, very well. Problem is, that leaves the plot a bit threadbare, but here it is: the Religion of Crime is still alive, it has 13 covens in Gotham, and a new leader about to show up (Alice, a weirdo who looks like a grown-up version of same from Wonderland, who we learn nothing about here), and Kate wants to stop them; that's about it. Nothing too fancy, and nothing too page-turning either. I liked this issue OK, the craft is fantastic. I especially like the new dynamic given to Kate, where her retired military father serves as her Alfred/Jiminy Cricket/Bosley/what-have-you, but I just don't know if I care enough about Kate herself or this particular story to keep plunking down money.
But the art...well, that alone is worth well more than the cover price. Williams does his thing here, and it is a wonder to behold. The layouts are varied, innovative, quirky, and packed, yet never feel crammed. And the art they contain is sheer beauty.
The Question back-up is OK; pretty standard-looking human-trafficking plot set up. I'm not a huge Hamner fan, nor big fan of Renee as the Question, but this was decent enough.
On the whole, it's a very well done issue. I just still wish Rucka & Williams were getting to put their talents to use on another book. I liked it, but don't know if I'll continue
Secret Warriors #5
OK, holy crap. If you've thought this book was a bit action-lite, and moved maybe a bit slow...rest assured, this issue hit the ground running and ever looks back. Fury and his Commandoes storm the Dock to steal the Helicarriers back from H.A.M.M.E.R.; the two groups fight, casualties are incurred, Hydra shows up and bum rushes both of them, Gorgon impales Sitwell, and Kraken and Strucker get Fury down, just in time for the kids to show up out of nowhere to try and save the day. Ass-kicking good times throughout.
The art remains top-notch, the action intensifies, and the characterization remains strong. I continue to be amazed at just how much I love this book; LOVED it.
Gotham City Sirens #1
This was a lot of fun. If you like Dini, particularly his take on these ladies, you'll probably love this book. Catwoman is still weak from her recent troubles, and needs help from Ivy to take down Bonebuster, some new jamoke looking to make a name for himself. She's saved by Ivy, who then takes Catwoman to her new home, which she's "sharing" with Riddler and Harley. The 2 worse girls decide to team up with Catwoman (after Dini sneaks in his almost-requisite Zatanna appearance in a fun little scene), embarrass Bonebuster again, and get themselves some new digs. However, Ivy and Harley reveal their cooperation has a steep price tag attached, and it ain't money.
The writing was crisp and full of humor, and the characterization is what you'd expect from an obvious heart-on-his-sleeve fan like Dini. Everybody gets some nice moments, including Riddler. And March's art is for the most part great, but he does tend to vary in quality a bit throughout a full issue. It's stylistic though, and works well with these characters. My one question about this book is just how long a shelf-life it has: Ivy's obviously not going to turning "good" anytime soon, and it's hard to maintain a book like this for very long about criminals, especially set in Gotham. But we'll see; as for now, I really liked it