Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #19

I really like Keith Giffen.

Not personally - which isn't to say I wouldn't, it's just that I've not met the guy who, from what I've read, seems like a good bloke and someone I'd like to have a chat with . . . I think I'm wandering from the point, here.

I really like Keith Giffen's writing. Both the (sadly) recently finished Midnighter and the DC/Wildstorm Dreamwar series showcase something that I don't often find in the other titles I read: a total lack of explanation.

Don't get me wrong, I like being told who various characters are, what they're doing, who they're doing it to, and that sort of thing, but Giffen doesn't bother with that. If you don't know who two characters are, you just have to hope their names crop up in a natural way. The last thing you'll find is "So you're Superman, eh? I'm Jack Hawksmoor, King of Cities!" when the two characters meet as they do in Dreamwar #3.

Giffen makes you work to find out who the hell these people are and for someone, like me, who isn't au fait with the Wildstorm universe, that presents a challenge.

And I like that!

His lack of expositionary dialogue, though, isn't the only thing that pleased me with this issue. In this one, to use a cliche, the stakes are raised; sure, in the previous issue, Green Arrow died but hey, it's just Green Arrow, you know? I like the guy and all, but . . . well, it's just Green Arrow.

On the third page of #3, Element Lad gets wasted but, you know, it's only Element Lad. Even in a (presumably) non-canonical crossover such as Dreamwar, you're pretty certain the top tier on both sides are going to make it through. Even after Sun Boy is killed, moments later Saturn Girl and Live Wire - two of the higher ranking/better known Legionnaires - are knocked unconscious. Not killed - knocked out. So, again, you can rest easy that the usual suspects are going to make it through.

A few pages later, though, and sweet zombie Jesus! Grifter shoots and kills Dr Fate! Dr Freaking Fate!

All preconceptions I had about Dreamwar were thrown to one side when I read that - not only is Fate one of the biggest magicians in the DCU, but the incarnation that gets killed here is the first one, Kent Nelson, serving with the Justice Society!

And then it just gets crazier with Batman facing off against Zealot and really playing for keeps; Zealot loses an eye; Batman gets his knee krunched!; Zealot gets a Batarang through the arm; then Batman loses part of a finger!

That, though, quickly becomes the least of his problems as Giffen delivers a hell of a splash page finish to the fight:I read that and the page that follows with a sense of shock. Zealot killed Batman, for God's sake.

Shit . . .

But the last couple of pages gave me hope: the League started acting like the League, questioning what they were doing and why they were there. At the halfway point of the series, things had become a whole lot more interesting.

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