Saturday, 29 September 2007

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #4

To be honest, it wasn't difficult this week choosing which comic to feature here. Yes, there was the first issue of volume two of Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters which showed its success wasn't reliant on the gorgeous artwork of Daniel Acuna; there was Green Arrow Year One #5 which, while nothing brilliant, was as solid as the rest of the run has been; there was Countdown #31 with the new Crime Society; and there was even Teen Titans #51, featuring the Titans of tomorrow.

Out of these and other titles I picked up this week, though, Blue Beetle #19 shone out. Keith Giffen, though he left the title after #10, appears as writer along with regular John Rogers. So seamlessly did Rogers continue with the story, I'm not sure whether Giffen's name appears as an error or not. Whether it was written by both of them or just Rogers is immaterial, however, as the issue is a joy to read.

There's been an element of humour throughout the series - probably inevitable with Giffen's involvement - and it's still evident; the last thing this book should become is grim and gritty. Beetle's supporting cast are realistic - witness the exchange between Paco and Peacemaker when they're confronted by Giganta tearing down the local villain's house. I can't help but wonder how Paco would have fared had Giganta still been wearing her leopard skin bikini.

Talking of which, it is nice to see Giganta wearing an all over body suit; it just makes so much more sense than that bikini... though that had its plus points...

The house Giganta's destroying belongs to La Dama, the local crime boss who happens to be the aunt of Beetle's best friend, Brenda. While Beetle's more than aware of who La Dama is, Brenda has remained ignorant of this for the whole series but finds out quickly during Giganta's attack.

Having previously met Traci Thirteen, Beetle taps her for information when he is told by Peacemaker that Giganta's transformation to huge size is magically based. Traci, having a handle on magic herself, points him in the direction of how to bring the villain down (literally) and, with Peacemaker's help, Beetle manages to stop her rampage.

Whereas most superhero fights are full of dire proclamations and gravitas laden statements, usually made through gritted teeth, Beetle's battle is a more lighthearted affair, as can be seen in the picture on the left.

But it's not all laughs in this book and that is perhaps why it's so consistently good. There are genuinely touching moments, particularly in the resolution of this issue. Brenda - La Dama's niece and Beetle's friend - finds out in the most insane way that her aunt is the crime lord that everyone in town is afraid of. To compound this, she finds out that her friends, Beetle and Paco among them, already know this and have been lying to her for months. To say she's upset is something of an understatement.

Instead of an angst ridden confrontation, however, Beetle sends his mother to comfort Brenda.

There is heart and understanding in this series, as well as some laugh out loud moments; if you're not buying this, you really should.

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