SYNOPSIS: There are many verifiable facts concerning 26-year-old Annah Billips. She likes sushi and mountains and piglets, but hates paper cuts and beer breath. She flirts with girls and boys, and loves to travel. She might have a missing sister… or she might be totally insane.
Did Annah invent an imaginary sister named Ginger during her parents’ traumatic divorce? Or did her mad scientist father extract part of her brain and transform it into a living twin? In this whimsical, thought-provoking graphic novel, a host of narrators (including boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, bystanders, magicians, and passing animals) try their best to unlock the mystery of Annah… and the Gingerbread Girl.
Reading this graphic novel will perplex a good many of its readers. There is a narrative here, and that narrative is delightfully constructed and handles multiple points of view well enough that I would venture to say that the manner that the story progresses is one of the more inventive devices I’ve read in recent years. The only problem that most readers will find is that, much like everything in life, at the end of it all no real clear answers to the pertinent questions are really given. There are suppositions and educated guesses, but nothing ever jumps out and puts the final seal on the major crux of the storyline.
But that’s not really all that important. The question of whether or not our protagonist is a loon really does not form the crux of the book at all, and the meat and potatoes of the story is really how the protagonist’s actions and beliefs force others to examine their own choices when it comes to dealing with her. This is a character study in 112 pages. It’s a psychological examination of how the world reacts to people who travel off the beaten path and though the conclusion of the tale may leave some a bit frustrated, it’s well worth a read. Writer Paul Tobin does an excellent job of making sure the thread of the narrative is carefully constructed and though some may find fault with it, I believe many complaints will be lodged by the book defying conventional expectation rather than due to any sort of failure on the part of the writer.
Colleen Coover has a very distinctive artistic style that absolutely compliments the story here and it would be hard to make a case against her minimalist technique when it comes to the aesthetic of this particular story. She would not be the right fit for an X-Men title, but for stories like this she reminds me a great deal of someone like Darwyn Cooke, whose style could hardly be called realistic but is the very definition of evocative. It really is some great work and the color scheme, muted and dulled with blues and soft earth tones really sets the mood for the story that unfolds.
If you’re looking for something that will make you reflect on the contents of what you’ve just read you really should give the book a chance. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it’s a nice change of pace from the mainstream comic work that I’ve been reading as of late.
Guys, this week was a killer. Probably the most major comic release date in a while. You have no idea how many people have been coming in asking about Batman Incorporated over the last few weeks. That final panel in Batman & Robin sold people in a way that I can’t really describe and I for one am thrilled that so many people are realizing how awesome Grant Morrison’s take on the Dark Knight truly is. The man knows what he’s doing. In Morrison we trust.
AVENGERS #7 3.99
BATMAN #704 2.99
BATMAN INCORPORATED #1 3.99
BATMAN THE RETURN #1 4.99
DEADPOOLMAX #2 (MR) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #59 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
OSBORN #1 BIG (OF 4) 3.99
POWER GIRL #18 2.99
SIXTH GUN #6 3.99
SPIDER-GIRL #1 BIG 3.99
SUPERGIRL #58 2.99
SUPERIOR #2 (OF 6) (MR) 2.99
SUPERMAN #705 2.99
THUNDERBOLTS #150 4.99
X-23 #3 2.99
X-MEN #5 3.99
Now after a good long day of writing about prostitution in the middle ages for a history paper, I can tell you about how awesome a few of these books are.
The weakest of the new Batman releases is the core title, which sadly seems like a middle of the road affair by Tony Daniel when compared to the amazing work done by Morrison and Finch in the other books released this week. Not to say that the book is horrible, it’s better than it has been recently, especially Daniel’s art which looks less rushed than I’m used to, but unfortunately the entirety of the book seems rather pedestrian when placed alongside the nearly pitch-perfect Batman Incorporated title. I think my main gripe with this title comes from the fact that it reads like a throwaway title from the late nineties or early two-thousands in it’s pacing, its art, and its choice of villainry.
The book suffers from feeling all too familiar to stories we already read but with minor tweaks. Unfortunately, the books that this seems derivitive of aren’t the best parts of Batman lore. I think that the book could stand to take a few more risks rather than settle into a comfort zone that’s so blatantly par for the course.
Then again, when Tony Daniel takes risks we get Catgirl, a character that I almost want to like out of the sheer absurdity of her existence. But then again, my tastes differ in certain areas from the general public so I won’t take a stand on that character until she’s had the chance to mature under another team of writers.
This book is everything you should want in a Batman title. Morrison manages to find the right balance of tone between the ridiculous, the macabre, the adventurous, and the outright fun. The book essentially turns into a globetrotting Bruce and Selina super-happy-fun action hour where Batman and Catwoman fly to Japan to begin preparations for that branch of the Batman Inc. plan to be put into motion but are sidetracked by a murder mystery and a cult of ninja assassins. There’s even some tentacle rape hentai jokes that seem all too appropriate coming from the mind of Grant Morrison.
The artwork on display here is robust and amazing. They really could not have found a better fit. Paquette’s Selina is as sexy as she’s ever been and the subtle touches he uses to portray Batman are astounding. It’s one of the best looking Batman books in a long time, rivaled only by Finch’s work in The Return which I’ll be discussing shortly.
If you pass on this one you will regret it later. This one is a home run in every sense of the damn word. Buy this book now!
I was wary of this particular title. That apprehension faded after the first few pages where Grant Morrison gives us what equates to graphic poetry, telling the story from the perspective of the bat that crashed into Bruce’s life when he needed to find his avatar. David Finch’s artwork guided the narrative with masterful flow and tone, showing off some of his most brilliantly stylized work to date.
That the art is this good is not surprising, given the subject matter and how much Finch loves to work with shadows and the darkness, but the complexities of the narrative were surprising considering that this is essentially the jumping-on point for new readers and Morrison made no attempt to censor his sensibilities and gave us intricate mysterious plot threads as well as hyper-neo-noir technological action adventure with jetpacks and robotics intertwined with some nitty gritty fight scenes.
If you’re planning on reading any of this week’s bat titles I highly recommend that you start off with this one as it outlines the new status quo for Batman quite handily and works to assure us that the people working on every title are going to be working as a cohesive unit to tell what seems like a hell of a story and if this one-shot is any indication, they’ll be bringing their a-game every step of the way.
From Marvel we get the newly minted 616 version of Spider-Girl, formerly Arana, in her first solo title. The whole Young Allies thing didn’t seem to work out so well so I’m pensive about this title, but hopefully they’ll let it go long enough to deter fans from yelling at them for cancelling what amounts to their only major female-driven solo title. (Scarlet doesn’t count, guys.)
It’s off to a good start. Establishing the cast of characters and letting the new readers get to know Arana in case they haven’t followed her from her humble beginnings in the revamped Amazing Fantasy from a few years back. The storytelling style is sound and concise, but from someone like Tobin who has a pretty firm grasp on narrative technique this isn’t really a surprise. The plotline seems familiar, as most superhero books are bound to borrow from each other a bit, but the expression, through a “twitter”-esque thought balloon parade seems fresh enough to distinguish it from other similar go-arounds.
I’m hoping it will stick around long enough to take off, because the character really is an interesting one. I especially liked her when she was in Ms. Marvel, another title that I sorely miss.
And now I go back to writing about whores. I guess this is what Frank Miller feels like all the time. A-ZING!!!!