Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. We hope everyone had a chance to enjoy their local shop’s Free Comic Book Day festivities.
I HATE IMAGE FCBD Special (Image Comics)
(W/A) Skottie Young (C) Jean-Francois Beaulieu
This is how you do a Free Comic Book Day special. Most publishers use the industry’s most sacred of holidays to push advertisement-filled pamphlets with very little actual story, or a reprint of a comic series so far along it makes no sense for new readers to catch up. But Image Comics is not “most publishers.” The independent giant has marched to the beat of its own drum for over 25 years, and to celebrate its silver anniversary it has called upon the always irreverent Skottie Young to lampoon its greatest triumphs.
Guiding the reader throughout I HATE IMAGE is Gertie, the lead character of Young’s own title I HATE FAIRYLAND. If you enjoyed seeing her bludgeon and slice her way through the publisher’s catalogue, you owe it to yourself to check out her own series. While her motives are not very clear – other than she’s an extremely bitter 8-year-old – it is her journey that it what makes this issue great. Seeing her take on the characters from acclaimed series like Saga, Black Science, and Southern Bastards is a real treat thanks to Young’s delightfully cartoonish artwork. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors is an acid-trip smorgasboard that perfectly captures the spirit of each title before Gertie rains hell upon it. I HATE IMAGE is a near-perfect love letter to Image Comics.
BATMAN #22 (DC Comics)
(W) Joshua Williamson & Tom King (A) Jason Fabok (C) Brad Anderson
Each issue of “The Button” has shown considerable improvement, with Batman #22 being the strongest issue yet. Though it came as a surprise to many that Joshua Williamson – not Tom King – would be scripting Batman #22 (King still earned a “story by” credit), the resulting issue proves that it was the right decision. The much-anticipated meeting between Bruce Wayne and the Flashpoint version of his father could have easily gone so wrong, yet Williamson manages to deliver an emotional and affecting “reunion.”
Because this issue takes place in the murderous world of Flashpoint, it doesn’t take long for the issue to escalate into an action-heavy installment. Seeing the two Batmen fighting side-by-side, while the Flash works to reassemble the cosmic treadmill, is wonderfully executed by artist Jason Fabok. His art is fully fleshed out thanks to colorist Brad Anderson, who is not afraid to use bright, primary colors in an issue that mostly takes place in a cave.
The Batman issues of “The Button” have felt like filler while The Flash provides the real meat of the story. For as much as Batman #22 does right, it still does not make much sense from a plot perspective – even with the context of the previous two issues. Yeah, it was cool to see Bruce and Thomas fight side-by-side, but it has little purpose in service to the story. At least having Williamson script this issue on the heels of The Flash #21 (as well as the upcoming The Flash #22) provides a narrative cohesion that this story would have lacked otherwise.
Youngblood #1 (Image Comics)
(W) Chad Bowers (A) Jim Towe (C) Juan Manuel Rodriguez
I’ve made it a point to not read any of the previous Youngblood comics. While I understand its significance as one of the original Image launch titles, I also understand the reputation it holds thanks to the writing and artistic talents of creator Rob Liefeld. However, I couldn’t resist in trying out this bright, shiny first issue from writer Chad Bowers and artist Jim Towe (Liefeld himself is relegated to scripting the surprisingly solid backup feature). After blazing through the issue’s 30 pages of story, I was shocked to conclude that that Youngblood #1 isn’t just “okay,” but is actually a good comic.
What makes this new Youngblood stand out is its willingness to push forward a new group of heroes while honoring the series’ legacy. Characters longtime readers may be familiar with are now in supporting roles. While their appearances are welcome, Bowers understandably prefers to play with the new creations, wonderfully brought to life by artists Towe and Juan Manuel Rodriguez. Throughout the issue, the creative team inserts minor touches which provide commentary on today’s society, much like the original Youngblood provides a snapshot into the 1990s. One such example is the app Help!, which is essentially Yelp! and “Uber for superheroes” rolled into one. In all, this new Youngblood give the series a much needed makeover.