This week, I read the first trade volume of the Power Girl reboot by Gray and Palmiotti (words) and Amanda Conner (art). I went in to this familiar with the praise the book got, but knowing little else. I knew Gray by reputation only; had read some gritty, true crime indie work by Palmiotti; and knew Conner not at all. With these non-expectations and a general disinterest for anything JSA-related, I entered the world of Power Girl.
That’s it, just “Wow.” This is a comic that’s fun, funny, sexy, and a quick read. There’s nothing challenging about it (in fact, it re-hashes a lot of old ideas like the hijacking of Manhattan Island; the use of a “fear” toxin; etc.), but it works beautifully. There’s broad humor (lots of boob jokes, boob references, and boob-shaped boobs), DC-geek jokes about Superman and his foes, cutting satire of the entire concept of the super-villain involved (I won’t spoil it for you), and even a scene featuring the boys from The Big Bang Theory T.V. show. The pacing is breakneck—even the “secret identity” scenes can’t slow it down; the dialogue is smart and witty; and the art. The art! Amanda Conner is to comics what Betty Page was to pin-ups.
This gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Highest possible recommendation. Screw the return of Captain America, if you’re looking for something that truly represents a “heroic age”—something that celebrates superhero ideas and tropes without being redundant or just plain stupid—this is the perfect book for you. Buy it. Now.
For my second review this time, an even lesser-known, lesser-appreciated classic: Hitman Volume 1 by Garth Ennis with the amazing indie favorite John McCrea on art chores. Now, I am tremendously found of Garth Ennis, but I never thought I’d read something of his I liked better than The Punisher. But this may be it. Hitman is (duh) a hitman, but he has some superpowers (he can read thoughts and has x-ray vision) and he does the supervillain hit-jobs that others can’t handle. He’ll shoot bad guys, but he won’t harm cops or capes. In other words, he’s a hell of a lot like Punisher. Or The Boys. There’s clear elements of both future-Ennis works here. You can see him working through his own distaste for superheroes in the book. And it that regard, it’s fresher, less polished. It’s like the origin not of comic book characters, but of the author’s story arcs themselves: The first hints of what he would write about later.
For those of you who aren’t Ennis superfans, maybe the story will be enough to sell this to you: Hitman is hired to kill Joker, and Batman is trying to stop him. Neat, huh? Four and a half stars–A must buy.
Last but not least: Batman Black & White Volume 1. It’s a collection of vignettes by famous comic book writers and artists. I have to say, it’s a kick to see some of the artists doing Batman (Joe Kubert, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, etc.), but the short stories are pretty weak. This one gets three stars for the curiosity factor, but it can’t sustain a recommendation unless you’re an avid Bat-Fan.