Gotham City Sirens #1
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Guillem March
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Publisher: DC Comics
For the second week in a row, a brand-new Bat-title debuted with a number one issue and a script by Paul Dini. And like last week’s Batman: Streets of Gotham #1, Gotham City Sirens #1 reads less like the first issue of a new series, and more like the next issue of Dini’s Detective Comics run.
Is accessibility really an issue when it comes to Ongoing Batman Comic #5 and Ongoing Batman Comic #6? Perhaps not, but I was pretty disheartened that the first line of narration referred to events in, I think, Battle for the Cowl (which I only read a single issue of), and the second line referred to Dini’s “Heart of Hush,” which I also didn’t read, and/or maybe that two-part story Catwoman story he did in Batman and TEC which I also didn’t read. Also referred to in the issue are Holly Robinson (Countdown To Final Crisis…?) and Catwoman being stabbed in the heart and getting a magical healing potion.
I realize that complaining about how new reader unfriendly super-comics are in 2009 is a little like complaining that it’s kind of hot in the summer, but if any super-comic were going to be accessible, I would certainly expect the first issue of a series to be so.
Now, if you’ve already been reading Dini’s comics, then you probably won’t have the same hurdles to jump that I did, and this will make quite a bit more sense and perhaps feel a lot more natural to you. Thief/crime-fighter Catwoman attempts to intervene in a mugging, and is unable to defeat the villain, a new-on-the-scene lame-o calling himself “Boneblaster.” Poison Ivy comes to her aid, and after Harley Quinn (who is inexplicably dressed as a naughty school girl) joins them, Catwoman decides that the three of them really ought to join forces because…well, because that’s the pitch for the series, I guess. Maybe why she makes the offer and why the other two accept will be explained later.
They also beat-up Boneblaster, The Riddler makes an appearance, Zatanna makes an appearance (I believe Dini’s contract with DC stipulates he gets to put Zatanna in every single book he writes), the G.C. Sirens get themselves a new hideout, there’s a completely unnecessary reference to a classic Batman villain being a pedophile, and then it’s time for the (quite effective) cliffhanger.
It’s perfectly adequate Bat-book scripting, certainly not the best of the new crop of Bat-books currently being rolled out (if I counted right, there are four new titles, and Batman and TEC each got new creative teams and directions), but certainly not the worst either. What makes the book well worth paying attention to, however, is the art, which is provided by Guillem March. His name doesn’t yet have the cache that Dini’s does, but March previously illustrated Joker’s Asylum: Poison Ivy, Denny O’Neil’s post-“Batman R.I.P.” two-parter, and portions of those Battle for the Cowl bookend anthologies.
Through those books, March has definitely proven to be a strong cheesecake artist, and cheesecake is obviously a large part of this book. So good thing DC hired an artist who can draw women well, an artist who knows about anatomy and drapery.
But the best thing about March’s work is that he while he can draw sexy ladies being sexy, he can also draw men in suits or undershirts, goofy-looking villains and weird-looking gargoyles. And buildings and vines, flowers and furniture, tile floors and hardwood floors. March is a real artist, one who knows how comics are supposed to work, and is adept at designing a page, putting all the information you need in a panel, arranging that information in a different ways to keep things fresh and fun to read, and he’s great at action sequences.
If the script, completely divorced from the art, is merely mediocre, a decent enough page-filler with no real problems, well then, it’s a lucky thing that in comics the script can’t be divorced from the art, which is here so accomplished and so uniquely stylized that it elevates Gotham City Sirens from being another Bat-book to being a Bat-book to watch.