Welcome to the inaugural edition of Comic Proportions. What the hell, you may ask, is Comic Proportions? Well, it's Creative Loafing's brand new comic book review column. In this space, we'll attempt to point you to the best -- and steer you away from the worst -- comic books for sale every week. In the same way we cover movies, music and food, we'll offer you an educated opinion about sequential art produced by a variety of creators and publishers.
And trust me when I say I'm educated about comics: I've been collecting for more than 30 years, I self-published a few comic books in the early 1990s and I even sold comics at a newsstand. As far as my journalism credentials go, I've worked as an editor for the last 15 years, and I've reviewed an ass-load of music and movies. I currently serve as the editor in chief of this fine paper. So, believe me -- I know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, read on. And please, send all questions and comments (and hate mail) to my e-mail address at the end of this masterpiece or just post them at the bottom of this page.
Black Canary No. 1
Published by DC Comics. Plot and script by Tony Bedard. Pencils by Paulo Siqueira. Inks by Amilton Santos.
The Deal: This comic is the first of a four-issue miniseries, and it's designed to tell the solo adventures of the DC Comics mainstay Black Canary. Canary is a superhero who's been around for decades, but she's mostly been featured in team books: She's served as a member of the Justice Society of America, the Justice League of America, the Birds of Prey (which eventually became a sucky TV show) and as a partner for Green Arrow. Well, it just so happens that this miniseries follows up on some plot points introduced in Green Arrow's latest series (which just ended its run last month at issue 75) -- specifically the fact that Green Arrow proposed to Canary (they've been dating for decades). The issue starts out with Canary contemplating the proposal while trying to play parent to her new daughter Sin, who she recently adopted from the assassin known as Lady Shiva. Yeah, it's complicated.
The Good: The art in Black Canary is amazing. Siqueira is a relative newcomer, but his skills make him come off like a vet. He wields a clean style, reminiscent of Terry Dodson, but employs an angular quality that smacks of guys like Kevin Nowlan. He's even mastered the difficult art of capturing facial expressions -- a la Kevin Maguire. I'm sure Siqueira's stint on this book will lead to some high-profile gigs.
The Bad: As much as I love Black Canary as a character, the whole point of this series is kind of degrading and only puts the character back a few steps. So we're going take four issues for Canary to decide if she wants to get married? Is that any way to establish her as a legitimate, individual star capable of carrying her own book? Uh, no. On top of all that, the story is a tad dull. This entire issue is pretty much setting up the story and the payoff at the end of the comic is quite unremarkable. I'm from the school that a writer has to prove why a character like Canary is cool, interesting and viable -- not just assume that everyone thinks that way.
The Verdict: Great art. Dull story. I won't be sticking around for the second issue.
The Astounding Wolf-Man No. 2
Published by Image. Plot and script by Robert Kirkman. Pencils and inks by Jason Howard.
The Deal: Presenting the second issue of Robert Kirkman's new horror/superhero book. The Wolf-Man is a fairly new character, introduced in May on Free Comic Book Day, and is probably the first werewolf superhero in comics. This issue picks up where the first one left off, with the Wolf-Man being trained in the use of his powers (which he gained after being attacked by a werewolf) by his vampire mentor Zechariah. Yeah, I said vampire mentor.
The Good: The Wolf-Man is a fun concept. I mean, you've gotta love a werewolf superhero. Kirkman's dialogue is stripped down and conversational and his plot is ... well ... fun. Kirkman is the author behind the horror comic The Walking Dead and the superhero book Invincible and he's been quoted saying this book is designed to bring those concepts together; taking that into account he's a success. Howard's art is sharp and cartoony, but very clean and deliberate; there are no wasted lines in this book. Despite the near-animated look, Howard isn't afraid to show tons of gore and blood. And you've gotta love gore and blood. In addition, the color, also by Howard, is done in a bright, flat style -- making the art look even more like an animated cartoon.
The Bad: Yes, the book is a fun read and the art is cartoony and fun, but there ain't much else to it. The Astounding Wolf-Man is all candy, no nutrition. And, of course, that may be the point. I, however, may not come back every month to dine on this sweet treat.
The Verdict: The Wolf-Man is fun, dammit. Read it ... and then pick up a Vertigo book so you don't die from a superhuman sugar rush.