Sunday, September 30, 2012

Phantom Lady #2: Review!

If DC is planning to relaunch the Freedom Fighters, they're going to have to amp things up. Here I can't help compare Phantom Lady to the advance sketches for Grant Morrison's Multiversity (starring DC's Charlton characters). Even without words, I can sense that something bold is in store for readers—while casting lower-tier characters. What's to lose, after all? In reviving characters outside of the DC mainstream, I've admired great works like Darwyn Cooke's Spirit, Azzarello's First Wave, and some of the recent Red Circle/Archie licensing written by Straczynski. 

Why bother to write any B-list (or lower) property conservatively? Isn't it precisely these characters who benefit from breakthrough storytelling and characterization? They've less to prove, and fewer expectations to which they must adhere. Palmiotti and Gray's very earliest reinterpretation of the Freedom Fighters did exactly this. Their Stormy Knight was a layered Phantom Lady; their Human Bomb was sleek and tragic; the Black Condor leapt off the page with power. Was it wrong of DC to return to the same well so soon, for the DCnU version?

... Last month, Jennifer Knight had been abducted by her quarry, Cyrus Bender, and Dane Maxwell had become the victim of his own experiment—shrunk to the size of a doll! ...

Bender tortured Jennifer instead of killing her. When he and his men left, Dane came to her rescue—in costume, sporting a mask and armor outfitted with a jet pack and laser weapons. When they returned to his lab, he bestowed her with weapons of her own. One that allows her to become intangible. The others were gauntlets controlled by a neural interace woven into the hood of her uniform. With them, she could fashion shadowy matter into any form.

Doll Man's debut, from Phantom Lady #2 (2012).
Art by Cat Staggs and Tom Derenick.
The two spent some time at Calvin City Lake where they trained and Jennifer coined her own codename: Phantom Lady. In turn she suggested some for Dane, settling on Doll Man because his clothes were made for dolls (he doesn't like it). While sparring, Dane experienced the nature of her shadows: like death, a different plane, claustrophobic.

After they began their costumed campaign against the Benders, Cyrus hired his own meta-muscle: Funerella. Notes: Calvin City was the home of the Golden Age Atom. Funerella was a villain in the 2010 Freedom Fighters series; she looks the same here. (#2)

The art is a little bit better in this issue and showing more sex appeal in the lead character. Still, when I read it there is some sort of disconnect. The writing is solid, the art is competent, but added together, the experience is not exciting. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Phantom Lady #2-3

UPDATE: Preview is available at DC

DC has solicited the second issue. It looks like you can see the wristbands that the most recent Phantom Lady used. Those bangles had massive space-warping powers, used for teleportation and the like.

• PHANTOM LADY’s crusade to avenge her family’s death lands her in the hands of her worst enemies.
• Her tiny teammate, DOLL MAN, is on the way to save her.

Written by: Justin Gray,Jimmy Palmiotti; art by: Cat Staggs, Richard Perrotta; cover by: Stephane Roux
On Sale Date: 
Sep 26 2012

BTW I LOVED the National Comics: Eternity issue! I'll be writing that up. Buy it! It was the perfect reinvention of the character and I really hope to see more of it.

UPDATE: Phantom Lady #3 is on sale 31 October 2012 and DC says...
• Phantom Lady and Doll Man face the frenzied fury of Funerella!
• Can the newly formed duo stand a chance against this villain’s strange powers?
Funerella was a villain created by Palmiotti and Gray for 2010's Freedom Fighters series.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Human Bomb #1!

Who knew that this would continue? Just announced: another Quality character mini-series, following The Ray and Phantom Lady—the Human Bomb!

There's something new going on this time around, though. The book is part of other books called "Beyond DC Comics—the new 52." Other titles include those based around TV shows and "Elseworlds" concepts. This appears to put Quality characters back on their own Earth again.  Grant Morrison's project to define DC's parallel Earths, Multiversity, is still slated for publication, and after that we my know more about DC's preference for multiple Earths and who lives where.

And very exciting news for me: art by Jerry Ordway! No hint from the solicitation that this character borrows from any Quality history. The character is Michael Taylor, a name which has no relation to any of the other iterations of the Human Bomb.


On sale DECEMBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 4, $2.99 US • RATED T
• Ex-Marine and war veteran Michael Taylor discovers a conspiracy to use human bombs to destroy the United States! But how can he possibly stop them when he could be their ultimate bomb?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Phantom Lady #1: Review!

As always, the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray deliver a fresh take on two iconic Quality Comics characters, Phantom Lady and Doll Man. Amanda Conner's gorgeous cover drawing really channels the spirit of this heroine, but the interior art by Cat Staggs though competent, does little to elevate Phantom Lady's legend as a sex symbol (a lost opportunity for DC; there's a lot of fandom surrounding this character).

Robert Bender murders Jennifer's parents. From Phantom Lady #1 (2012). Art by Cat Staggs and Tom Derenick.
The new heroes are Jennifer Knight (originally Sandra Knight) and Dane Maxwell (originally Darrel Dane). Their personal lives are intertwined, having known each other since childhood. And they share a romantic connection (so no Doll Girls on the horizon here!).

Jennifer's story is similarly tied into that of her father's, Harry Knight, a renown writer for the Daily Planet. When Jen was six, Knight's stories about Robert Bender, head of the Bender crime family, earned him and his wife a ticket to early graves.