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Comics are known for a lot of things: extremely muscular superheroes, anatomically incorrect heroines, but best of all, unbelievably complex plot lines. With so many different comics under each publisher, everyone careening off into another storytelling direction, the web of events that relate to each other can be dizzying. Not to mention that most stories lie outside the realm of possibility. The three books from this week exemplify the best in comic plot structuring and storytelling. With an example from each of the big two (Marvel and DC) and one from an independent publisher, these comics are beyond thought provoking.
Although most know Selina Kyle as the leather-clad thief and villain of Batman, Catwoman is more complex than many give her credit. For years, Kyle has been the valiant Robin Hood of at-risk youth in Gotham, particularly young women. However, perhaps an even greater secret, is that for years Catwoman has been written by some of the greatest comic book writers in the industry and has seen such comic book-capable hands like Darwyn Cooke, Tony Bedard and Will Pfeifer. DC Comics continues the tradition by placing Judd Winick (The Adventure of Barry Ween: Boy Genius) on the book. The first issue of this book, which premiered last September during DC’s relaunch, faced some backlash with readers complaining the Catwoman had been “over sexualized.” Although I disagree, it was clear that DC was ready to take the character in a new direction. Winick has an amazing control over his characters and has created a new Selina Kyle for a new generation of readers. At the conclusion of this issue, we see that Winick is prepping the book for the “Night of Owls” story arc that will be taking place in Scott Snyder’s Batman book. With such tight storytelling and clear cut crossovers, Catwoman is one book that is consistently top notch, every month.
Perhaps one of the most in-depth storytellers in the comic industry, Peter David is writing the greatest team superhero book in the pages of X-Factor. Part sleuthing detective thriller, part classic spandex superhero goodness, X-Factor follows mutant leader Jamie Madrox (aka The Multiple Man) who is in charge a group of B-list mutants (hence the X) which includes Siren, Strong Guy, Monet St. Croix and Layla Miller to name a few. After Jamie Madrox returns from the dead (another classic staple in comic booking) only to find his team in total disarray. Peter David continues to flaunt his storytelling ability as he furthers a story thread which he established in issue #1, more than five years ago. Don’t let this daunt you. The book is easily accessible to any reader and is one of the more lighthearted comic books on the stand. However, David rewards his diehard fans with meticulous attention to any thread he creates and makes sure to follow it to its conclusion. I’ve been with the books since its beginning, and I will be with X-Factor until it ends.
Although there is a noticeable lack of spandex in this book, it makes up for it with one of the most intriguing and cryptic stories being written. Terry Moore, writer and artist on the book, reached comic prominence with Strangers in Paradise, which follows the story of two women who find love in unexpected places. His next work, Echo, channeled science fiction as Moore tells the story of a woman who becomes grafted to a strange metallic suit, which slowly starts to take over her psyche. Now, Moore takes on the horror genre. Rachel Rising focuses on Rachel Beck, who begins the story dead. Yes, dead. Inexplicably, she is resurrected, but unlike a zombie, she appears completely normal except for her blood red eyes and the rope burn around her neck. Moore uses all his talent, the intimacy of Strangers in Paradise and the abnormal story style in Echo, to create a truly thrilling horror drama.
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