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Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Catching Up On My Reading
Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale by Various, from DC:
Nine different Catwoman stories, nine different Catwoman costumes, ranging in period from her first appearance in Batman #1 in 1940 to the Catwoman Secret Files from 2002. The end result is not so much a "best of" approach to Catwoman as it is a "typical of the period" approach. So in addition to some genuinely interesting golden and silver age stories, we get saddled with some less impressive modern stories. The Secret Files story, for example, is fine on its own, but it feels tacked on here. Likewise for the Jim Balent era and animated style stories. So while I enjoyed the book, the last half doesn't hold up quite as well as the first. The book itself is attracting a lot of attention in the store, thanks to the Brian Bolland cover, although the upcoming film has probably helped as well as over-all more people are coming in looking for Catwoman comics. Which I think supports my hypothesis that despite the general distaste for the film being expressed by the fan-boy population, the real world may actually be interested in it. The marketing seems to be driving home two things: girls kicking ass and Halle Berry in leather. Those two factors are clearly intended to get both men and women in theaters, unlike most super-hero movies which are decidedly aimed at little boys.
Sgt. Frog Vol. 1 by Mine Yoshizaki, from Tokyopop:
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. The premise is that a frog-like alien has become stranded on Earth after a failed invasion attempt and has become the "pet" of two Japanese children. The short preview in the FCBD Tokyopop preview book, as well as the good word-of-mouth the series seems to be getting, made me curious to pick up the first volume. It's funny enough, I suppose, but it's just as often strained humor. And there's far more fan-service than I generally like. I'm not sworn off the series entirely at this point, but I think I want to take a close look at the second volume before spending any more money.
Closer by Antony Johnston and Mike Norton, from Oni:
The set-up is thus: a group of scientists who engaged in a failed experiment years ago, one in which a person was killed, are summoned to the remote estate of a man who claims to have perfected their work. Only Serena Cumberland has taken the place of her dead mother, and with her pet rat threatens the plans of the madman who has devised this demonstration. There's a lot to like here. Johnston's pacing is dead on, and Norton's art, though occasionally a little stiff, has a lot of appeal. What is a little frustrating is the way in which Johnston presents the story. I get the feeling that he doesn't wish to insult the intelligence of his readers and explain every little thing to them, but there are still gaps in the exposistion. After reading the book twice I'm still not sure exactly who all these characters are and what they have been doing since the first experiment failed. And then there are the actual "horror" elements of the story. It's a weird mix of quantum mechanics and Egyptology. To say more would spoil it, but it's another one of those elements in the story that could have, perhaps, used just a little bit more explanation that what is provided. Overall, I'm not disapointed, as I enjoyed the book a great deal, but I'm reluctant to recomended it to anyone else without being certain that they'd be able to fill in the gaps in the narrative themselves.