Current Reviews


Scrapyard Detectives #4

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009
By: Penny Kenny

J. M. DeMatteis
Bill Galvan, Rob Hawkins (i), Dave Lanphear (l)
The Diversity Foundation
“...And forget”

On the second anniversary of the accident that put her in a wheelchair, Jinn is stalked by the person responsible. At the same time Raymond’s cousin Katie arrives for a visit, ready to help the Scrapyard Detectives solve mysteries.

As the back cover proclaims, this is the issue that changes everything, and there couldn’t be a better writer to usher in that change than J.M. DeMatteis. He is the perfect writer for this particular issue. He knows how to tell a good story that basically centers around the characters’ emotional states. As there’s less of a mystery here than in previous issues, he holds the readers' attention by moving between Jinn’s story and Katie’s. He perfectly balances the more serious tone of Jinn’s narrative with Katie’s lighter tale, finally drawing them together in an unforced manner.

As seen in previous issues, Jinn has dealt with the accident to some extent and gotten on with her life; but here we see her at a very emotional time. DeMatteis makes us believe that she’s still angry, yet he never violates her established character. Her responses are natural. They never descend into the melodramatic. She’s a hurt girl who’s lashing out.

Katie is another girl acting out. At first you write her off as an over-enthusiastic, pesky little sister type. It’s fun watching her annoy Raymond and it’s her impulsive behavior that sets much of the book’s action in motion. However, DeMatties shows us there’s more to her than appears on the surface. She’s not just the comic relief. She has her own issues. It’s also because of Katie that Jinn’s story reaches a resolution. Hopefully she’ll appear in more Scrapyard Detectives stories as she’s a lively, intelligent character that plays well off of Raymond.

While much of the dialog has to be expository, DeMatteis manages to make it natural sounding. These kids are smart and creative and that comes across in their speech. I personally enjoy Robert and Lisan’s running, good-natured argument about Robert’s ego. They can toss “funnies” back and forth, but they can also throw cruel words at one another.

DeMatties also knows how to write a moral story that isn’t moralistic. Yes, there’s a lesson to be learned from this story, but it’s not grafted on. It grows organically from the situation and DeMatties handles its articulation well.

While good throughout, Bill Galvan’s art is absolutely superb in spots. On the first page, as Jinn snaps her head around to bark at her physical therapist, the angry expression is perfectly rendered. You also get a sense of how she’s moving from the way her hair splays about her. Turning the page you get a two panel sequence that shows Jinn’s change of expression from stubbornness to shame. It’s a quiet moment drawn well. Actually Galvan is at his best drawing close-ups focusing on the emotional states of the characters. There’s another two panel sequence, this one of Katie, that’s just beautiful.

J.M. DeMatties and Bill Galvan’s “...And forget” is an easily accessible, enjoyable, and touching all-ages story.

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