Tuesday, January 24, 2012
GN Review -- Gotham City Sirens: Union / Paul Dini & Guillen March
Things have gotten considerably wilder in Gotham. Bruce Wayne is no longer around to fill the mantle of Batman, and it seems lowlifes are coming out of the woodwork trying to make fast reputations for themselves. After teaming up to take down one such punk, Catwoman proposes an alliance between herself, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn, complete with a nice new apartment. It isn't long before they're embroiled in several adventures, not of their own making, including a near-deadly encounter with Hush (posing as Bruce Wayne), a far more vicious battle with an apparently hyper-murderous Joker, and even an internal squabble amongst themselves as Harley and Ivy demand Selina share with them the one piece of knowledge she's sworn to protect at any cost.
Writing-wise, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much thought was put into some of the stories, or at least some aspects of them. Dini's explanation of how Selina was able to lie about Batman's identity was well handled, though it makes me wonder if that lie won't come back to bite her in the... future. The use of one of the Joker's throwaway sidekicks as a bitter has-been wanting Harley's demise was actually rather clever. I was also amused by a marginally involved story of the Riddler, helping the girls out, as he starts solving crimes as a consulting detective a la Sherlock Holmes, much to the chagrin of Dick Grayson's Batman. It's actually pretty funny to watch them squaring off, and I hope to read more of that at some point.
I would imagine more than a few people would have a problem with this kind of book, one that features a whole lot of cheesecake. It would be easy to make the argument that a title like Gotham City Sirens, while superficially preaching Girl Power, still makes the case that the only strong women worth reading about are the ones that can rock a tight leather or spandex outfit. I can appreciate the direction this line of thinking takes, but I do not have a problem with this book or this series. I view this book simply as a fun piece of escapist fiction, like so many comic books.
As my girlfriend recently said, who doesn't want to imagine themselves as a total hottie once in while? ;-)
I will admit to taking a look at this one for the cover and the art contained within. I am a guy, Guillen March does cheesecake very well, and his heroines are quite a delight to behold. With that said, he also does a good job of drawing action sequences and large, dramatic shots. There's a particularly nice visual of Poison Ivy using a giant plant to hold off an attack by a big clown blimp that's both impressive and amusing to look at. I also enjoyed his interpretations of the Riddler and Batman for the brief scenes when they get involved in the story.
Overall, I enjoyed Union quite a bit. It's a guilty pleasure in the visuals department, but the story, while a bit simple in places, is paced well, and Harley, Selina, and Ivy each have distinct personalities and voices that help move the narrative along as much as the plot. Super-hero fans will enjoy this work, particularly anyone who likes stories about women heroes trying to live their lives on their own terms. At the very least it's a fun and amusing story that's pleasantly drawn and features attractive women characters. Highly recommended.