Batman: Year 100 #2 (DC): Perhaps not the grand spectacle that the first issue was, but super enjoyable nonetheless. Fantastic bits of detective work by both Batman and Gordon. Also enjoyed the appearances of down-and-dirty Robin and perhaps... Batgirl? Oracle? Can't wait for this to inevitably be collected and hopefully include some bonus material. Grade A-.
Truth, Justin, & The American Way #1 (Image): Hoo-boy. There are some very rookie efforts here from the creative team. Preface: I've self-published comics. I know it ain't easy. I also can't write humor very well. But dude, this was pretty bad. The humor felt very forced. As if bits may have read funny on paper, but when spoken they just don't sound natural. The dialogue is clunky, offering up some very awkward word arrangements. It's as if the creators spent more time stealing the high concept from 80's TV than they did dedicating time to the actual scripting process. Best example of bad dialogue construction: "Where in go tape up and send this package to our Stockholm office did you pick up use the tape gun to create a vortex of chaos in the mailroom?!" Everyone try saying that out loud at a normal pace. I defy you not to trip it up in two spots. Wouldn't a more effective choice be "How'd you get from tape up this box to create a vortex of chaos in my mailroom?!" One of the best tricks I've learned when crafting dialogue is to force yourself to physically read it out loud. Over and over. Then have someone else read it out loud. Trust me, the words and sequences that need polishing to sound more realistic will jump out at you and become very obvious. And of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room is that this is a rip off of the old TV show Greatest American Hero. Complete with theme song, the looks of the lead characters, the premise of a space suit, and a well meaning dullard who bumbles his way through situations and somehow comes out unscathed. This is topped of by CHIPS references and TV formatting (like "credits" rolling at the end) that just sit there and look at you without being entertaining. Their self admitted "love for the 80's" reads like duplication, not homage. And that, without the benefit of nostalgia goggles, makes it terribly unhip and unfunny. There are some bad panel to panel transitions here that miss some obvious jokes too. When your fiance yells "no strippers!" to you as you rush off to your bachelor party and you retort "right, no strippers" on the last panel of the page, wouldn't an obvious joke be to have the reader turn the page and immediately see you crapulously ensconced amid a bevy of strippers?! But no, instead we get 6 pages of him going from the liquor store to the hotel. 6 pages of long, drawn out story beats. Into the store. Out of the store. To the car. Parking. Up the stairs. Going to th...... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Grade D+.
Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars #2 (Image/Desperado): Dug the intro text pieces on the inside front cover, which boasted a dark and regretful tone. Templesmith's art is really growing too. Between this project and Warren Ellis' Fell, he is losing the harsh sketchy lines of pal Ashley Wood and developing a more rounded, softer expressionistic palette that differentiates characters very distinctly. The idea of imagination (though borrowing from Moore's Promethea a bit) being the fuel that drives this world, providing Hatter M his powers, and even visible around the violin player, is really fun. Small details like escaping through the trap door in the stage really captures the era, as do the repeated references to Hatter as one of "Wonderland's millinery elite." Love that. If the first ish relied a bit more on high concept, this one is content to set that aside and run with good pacing, great characters, nice action, and plenty of intrigue as the search for Princess Alyss continues. I'm hooked. Grade B+.
DMZ #5 (DC/Vertigo): Read this last night and don't have it in front of me for reference, but I recall it being another pretty strong issue. The bit that sticks with me most is that Matty's presence in the DMZ is becoming known, almost as a local legend. "That reporter" traipsing around Manhattan who is neither friend nor foe. Grade B+ .