Birds of Prey #98
writer: Gail Simone
artist: James Raiz
DC Comics, released 9-20-06
I finally think I've gotten a good grasp on the ladies of BoP since their one-year-later jump, but it's taken longer than I'd have liked it to. Now that Black Canary is back in the fold, things are getting back to normal, meaning that there is plenty of craziness to unravel. The big twist this issue is the appearance of a new, mysterious Batgirl. The inclusion of Rose Forrest/Thorn for a scene earlier in the book is a pretty sad fake hint as to the identity of the new Batgirl. For one, Thorn lacks the transportation ability that Batgirl possesses, as well as the freckles adorning her nose and cheeks visible beneath Batgirl's mask. Cassie (the most recent, yet currently retired Batgirl) is busy being an assassin, so it's not her either. Frankly, even by the end of the issue, I don't really care who it is. Issue #99 will have a lot of work to do to get me excited for what one would expect to be very big issue #100.
6 out of 10
Claws #2 (of 3)
writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
artist: Joe Linsner
Marvel Comics, released 9-13-06
Eventually, someday, I will buy a mini series featuring the Black Cat and not be horribly disappointed. The first issue was nothing special, but I could still see the potential for at least an enjoyable read by the end. This issue shattered that. All Wolverine and the Cat are doing is avoiding being killed by a bunch of nameless hunters in a very uninspired fashion. This does not live up to the standard of the film Surviving the Game, the best people-hunting-people story I've ever been exposed to. However, the disappointment of this series is mainly due to the reveal of the villain, who has very likely been contracted by someone else with a legitimate vendetta against Logan and Felicia. This villain should be regulated to Marvel Adventures titles, not the Marvel Knights imprint. Even if there was a good reason to slap these two protagonists together, it has not even been hinted at yet. This is a very underwhelming effort given by Palmiotti and Gray, who have shown themselves to be a solid writing team, which is evident in the highly enjoyable Heroes for Hire and Daughters of the Dragon books. With the exception of a few funny visual gags, this mini is flat out not worth your money or time.
3 out of 10
The Cross Bronx #1
writer: Michael Avon Oeming & Ivan Brandon
artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Image Comics, released 9-6-06
Set in the eponymous section of New York, The Cross Bronx is an intriguing premise. Our main character is Rafael Aponte, a detective who seems disillusioned -- by what, we are yet to discover; however, due to the repeated inclusions of moths and religious iconography, I'd have to say it's got something to do with a combo of those. What does religion have to do with moths? Hell if I know; go ask a Christian entomologist. Anyway, Rafael is following the trail of a gun involved in a multiple murder case, leading him to the former owner's family. Further coincidences between the family and the murder are teased, followed by some more mysterious killings.
There is plenty of moody art in this issue. Because of Oeming's style, I can't help but be reminded of he and Bendis' fantastic Powers while reading this, but I believe after another issue, the differences in tone between the two will become more prevalent, thus separating it from his creator-owned masterpiece. The depictions of violence here are gruesome, and he has done a wonderful job with it.
I think this book has some real depth to it and, depending on how events progress in the mini, could even be turned into an intriguing ongoing series. This is not one to be missed.
8 out 10
Jack of Fables #3
writers: Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges
artist: Tony Akins
Vertigo/DC Comics, released 9-27-06
It took a few issues, but it now looks as those Jack of Fables does have enough legs to stand apart from Fables on its own. Many fears I'd presented in a Shortbox article a few months back have been laid to rest at the close of this issue. There is certainly a foe worthy on the same level as the Adversary in Fables with the Librarian and all of his employees. Jack has grown on me as a hero, but it's still hard to relate to him. He's simply too perfect. I prefer a hero I can relate to, which is why I like Daredevil fighting to serve justice and his own desires in the midst of the chaos that his life constantly brings. Jack may reach similar hardships in time, but right now he is the dashing, incredibly handsome guy who always wins a battle of wits, not to mention that his has a healing power akin to Wolverine. (I only have the incredibly handsome thing going for me.) That said, Jack is likable enough to root for, and I expect the more I invest in his character, his likeability will only increase. Pick this one up now, as well as the first two issues; they are probably still on the stand at your local shop.
8 out of 10
Union Jack #1 (of 4)
writer: Christios Gage
artist: Mike Perkins
Marvel Comics, released 9-20-06
Moving along to the other book in my stack featuring a lead character named Jack, comes the international terrorism thriller Union Jack. This mini spins out of the recent "Twenty-First Century Blitz" arc from Epting and Brubaker's Captain America. It takes place afterwards that storyline, though how long is unclear, and in the end unimportant. What is important about Joe Chapman is, unlike the two men who wore the uniform before him, he comes from a blue-collar background as opposed to the British aristocracy that they belonged two. Social class, while certainly causing instances of contention here in the states, is a much larger source of conflict in Great Britain. This Union Jack is a man of the people more than he is a mere vampire and werewolf slayer. While I have to admit I was kinda bored with most of this issue (the rest of the cast just is not very interesting to me yet), the last few pages really hooked me, especially considering that the man of the people just wrote many of their death warrants with a decision he made. I absolutely love a character that majorly screws up; it gives them the greatest motivation to make up for it, if they ever can. Now it's Jack's turn to do just that.
7 out of 10