Tuesday 6 July 2010

Swoon Now! Batwoman and Beasts of Burden

Two books to highlight from the recent releases in the last 7 days. Nothing catches the media attention to comics quite like a death or a gay character and so it came to pass that the tabloids took great interest when DC re-introduced Batwoman to continuity - she's gay by the way. When a comic reaches out in this way it's a tense moment because there'll be a certain amount of comic virgins coming to investigate and the quality of the comic suddenly becomes a taster for the entire genre. In this case we all breathed a little easier.

With all respect to Greg Rucka who is a good comic writer (his Queen & Country series is very strong), it's JH Williams' extraordinary artwork that lifts the story. Whether its his perfect imitation of David Mazzuchelli's work on Batman Year One when re-telling Batwoman's origin or his inventive layouts, or his design work on the charcters and settings, the book really is visual feast. There's a pretty comprehensive interview with Williams on CBR which is worth reading and it's interesting to note that he talks about the healthy colaborative process with Rucka because the book reproduces pages from the original script. Let me ask: Would you have produced those layouts from that script?

Secondly there's Beasts of Burden (Dark Horse) written by Evan Dorkin in which a small pack of dogs and one cat not so much investigate but find themselves embroiled in a series of supernatural cases. Yes I know what you're thinking but while it's not as dark as I'd have liked it's nowhere near as cute as I feared. In fact while you could say that it's perfect for animal lovers who will appreciate the lovely painted art by Jill Thompson and detail to character, as each story grows in stakes so does the emotional impact and moments of nastiness. Zombie dogs anyone?

There is a nice line of humour in the series and it's garnered some serious acclaim with fans that include Neil Gaiman and Eric Powell. There's also talk about a cross-over with another paranormal investigator from Dark Horse: Hellboy.

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