MARCH GOING BATS MADNESS: Sirenade Me - March 02, 2011

GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #20 (DC Comics, February 23, 2011 – cover date April ‘11)  Peter Calloway, writer. Andres Guinaldo & Ramon Bachs, pencillers. Lorenzo Ruggiero & Ramon Bachs, inkers. JD Smith, colors. Steve Wands,  letters.    Cover by Guillem March.      “Hell Hath No Fury”  Part One

During the introduction of several new Batman-themed titles following FINAL CRISIS in 2009, GOTHAM CITY SIRENS was one of the series I reviewed and enjoyed. It was also the first title I dropped from my monthly readings. That was due more to budgetary considerations than my appreciation for the book. However, I did speculate as to how long this title might endure considering its somewhat tenuous premise.  I stopped following it after Issue #5.

Sirens #20

Yet, endure it has - - and now up to Issue #20.  Original scripter/series creator Paul Dini departed after issue #11, followed by a shorter 5-issue run handled  by the capable Tony Bedard. Television scripter and long-term Batman fan Peter Calloway has been the writer since Issue #16.  This is my very first encounter with his comics work and it is impressive.  Based on his successful script for a JOKER’S ASYLUM/The Riddler one-shot, he was offered the writing duties on GOTHAM CITY SIRENS.  Issue #20 begins his second story arc and it looks to be a very good adventure that he lays the groundwork for in Part One.

This issue features Harley Quinn and a whole lot more.  Calloway, Guinaldo & Bachs utilize a neat combination of dialogue-free action panels in the opening pages. The caption boxes share Harley’s thought process with us as she breaks into Arkham Asylum on a mission of murderous revenge aimed  at The Joker.  We learn that beneath Harley’s “happy-go-lucky side” is a place of suppressed rage.  Harley taps her skills learned as a former therapist at Arkham to gain access by utlizing secrets learned about some employees.  With four items at her command she gets into the deepest bowels of Arham and closer to where the Joker resides.  The items are marbles, a flower, a crowbar and a fourth one still waiting to be used in the next issue. 

Each item is related to a traumatic moment in the lives of Asylum officer Adam Hendricks, Asylum director Alice Sinner, inmate Basil Karlo (Clayface), and Aaron Cash, head of Arkham security.  We learn of that connection in some appropriately illustrated double-page spreads where the action/back story takes place inside panels shaped like marble spheroids, flower petals, and along the curvature of the crowbar.  The presentation is very clever and enhances the impact of these scenes.

I can’t wait to find out what awaits the Joker once Harley confronts him in some future issue.

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