"Outside Looking In."
Writer: Adam Beechen
Artists: Rick Burchett, Heroic Age(c)
Adam Beechen is an extremely underrated author. His anonymity is a crime. In Justice League Unlimted, Beechen explores the characterization of Gypsy. He does this in a single issue that entertains with a complicated plot and intriguing interaction from the members of the team.
He opens the book with Gypsy's narration. Here readers discover what makes the character different from the common conception of gypsies. He superimposes Gypsy's narration--highlighted by letterer Phil Balsman through a Gypsy circlet--onto Rick Burchett's energetic exciting artwork. The smiling Gypsy takes down two armed body armored thugs, and the way she moves lends the illusion of a gypsy dancing.
When the thugs multiply Beechen displays Gypsy's intelligence by having her call in the League. J'onn forms an away team led by Captain Atom, and this gives Beechen and Burchett the opportunity to show just how Gypsy feels about her extended family. Gypsy's narration furthermore bolsters the League's actions. It's not that they simply beat up bad guys that make the League important to Gypsy. It's that they "help each other" when they "need it."
Complications arise in the story from unique legalities. The opening act ends with Captain Atom being promoted to major jackass and his chewing out Gypsy for jumping to conclusions. The Flash winningly tries to placate the Captain, but the Captain always was this close to becoming another Hal Jordan. Fortunately that breadth to pure male chauvinism is still kept at bay. By the end of the story, the Captain owes Gypsy an apology, and she gets one.
Gypsy's motivation to prove herself to the League, to not lose her family, serves as the impetus for her next laudable actions. Gypsy starts following the money. She reveals a fine and intelligent new criminal type created by Beechen that fits perfectly into the Cartoon Nework's sublime and smart Justice League universe.
Unwitting confirmation from the Flash shows Gypsy's on the right track and that Rick Burchett's art isn't just worth viewing for the action sequences. Burchett's subtle and characteristic gestures for the characters help bring them to life.
Beechen continues to layer the plot and ties in these twists with Gypsy's growing reliance on information rather than simply intuition and instinct. Gypsy suspects that the men she hunts are not legitimate businessmen, and she goes to great lengths to find the proof to back up those suspicions. The course of the investigation leads to more scenes of Gypsy smiling and dancing from Burchett. Notice also how she does not rely solely on her super-powers. Her camouflage found out, Gypsy immediately adapts.
The plot that naturally unfolds cleverly dovetails back to some commentary previously made by the other characters. It also promises and delivers more action and absolves Gypsy from any previous embarrassment she may have felt.
This is how a story should be written. Beechen deepens the characterization of established characters. He does not neglect any of the co-starring character. He generates dialogue that befits each hero. He creates a plot that becomes complicated not through contrivance but through a domino effect of revelations. He threads a theme through the story that raises it above a mere good guys versus bad guys trope. Burchett duplicates the Cartoon Network's Justice League look, and his experience, dating all the way back to the very first Batman book based on the animated series, gives him a versatility with this group that's unmatched.
Martian Manhunter (cameo)
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!