Recent Readings: Judge is no Joke
BATMAN AND ROBIN #15 (DC) “Death Of The Family” – I just wanted to take another peek at this crossover storyline. Just to make sure it’s worth my getting the trade paperback later. It appears to be so. Robin has been directed by Batman to “sit it out” and monitor the proceedings from the Batcave. Of course, the “little big man” has his own ideas of how to best use his skills and turns them towards finding the abducted Alfred. Naturally, the trail leads him right to the Joker. The Joker as depicted by Snyder, Tomasi and others is madder than ever and even more unpredictable. Tomasi is hinting at an extreme sense of possessiveness that Joker holds for Batman, and a resentment towards the attention he devotes to his “family” members. Classic lines here from the Joker: “The Batman I know and love has more PEZ in the dispenser - - but you all keep pushing his head back, reaching down his neck and taking more than you deserve until one day he’ll be empty and have no PEZ left to give poor ol’ me.” Gleason’s stellar art only serves to enhance the disturbing nature of this tale - - and the rest of the art team backs it up with the appropriate shading. Yes, I’m looking forward to reading the full story - - eventually.
JUDGE DREDD #1 (IDW): IDW deserves credit for a very faithful adaptation of Judge Dredd that is respectful of the themes, feel, and look of the British Dredd stories and the entire 2000 A.D. line. While I have never been a regular reader of the 2000 A.D. titles - - there are legions of Dredd fans in the United States who should be thrilled to see publication here of all new stories. Dredd is not a complex character and writer Duane Swierczynski nails it on the first effort. Dredd is sort of one-dimensional, a fascist cop who’s most admirable quality is his grim determination to uphold the law and his impatience with any law breakers, who often experience his violent wrath. The artist on the lead story is Nelson Daniel who accurately depicts the complexities of Mega-City One. About the only difference I detected between the original British books and here is the welcome use of larger panels. The back-up short feature is drawn by Paul Gulacy, whose trademark style is not very much in evidence here. Gulacy adapts to something more suitable to the source material. I almost thought I was looking at Darick Robertson’s work circa TRANSMETROPOLITAN until I checked the credits. Gulacy fans will want to pick this up to see for themselves. The lead story centers around a revolt of the servant robots, which Dredd will continue to investigate into the next issue.
MASKS #1 (Dynamite): The amazing Alex Ross is finally persuaded to move off the cover of various Dynamite books and grace the interior pages with his dynamic art. When the subject matter is classic pulp detective heroes the results are breathtaking. Couple that with a script from skilled adaptor Chris Roberson and we are in for a magnificent mini-series. It starts with a meeting between the Green Hornet, Kato and The Shadow in a darkened alley and moves forward to a dinner meeting between their daytime identities at a posh nightclub. A new political organization aims to curtail crime in a hurry. The Justice Party wins the election and citizens quickly realize they elected some real criminals. One of the newly hired police officers (from the mob ranks) bears an uncanny resemblance to classic horror actor Rondo Hatton. Before this series ends, various pulp heroes will make their way to New York City to team up and take down the corrupt local government. Issue #1 also introduces Zorro and The Spider into the mix. There will be more. The street settings, the dialogue, and the situations all read like classic pulp fiction. The art by Ross perfectly captures this era and lends an air of mystery through his mastery of realistic illustration, panel placement, shading and depth perspective. You really need to see this book to appreciate it fully.
WORTH READING AGAIN AND AGAIN . . . . . . . . .
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #1-6 (Marvel 2009-2010): This mini-series is a truly amazing accomplishment. A reader completely unfamiliar with Captain America can get up to date with a clear understanding of who he is, who he was, what he represents, and his history just from reading REBORN. Writer Ed Brubaker has never been better, and clearly establishes here why he is the absolute best-ever scripter of Captain America. It’s all here - - back story, suspense, mystery, and action galore. The art team of Hitch and Guice does equally great first-class work here. Pair this mini-series up with CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHO WILL WIELD THE SHIELD? one-shot and then Brubaker’s follow-through CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 (2011) and you will be thoroughly entertained.