Friday, March 14, 2014


Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artists: Amanda Conner, Sanford Green, Ted Naifeh, Mike Bowden,
Santi Casas, Tony Akins, Walden Wong
Colorists: Randy Mayor & Paul Mounts | Letterer: Wes Abbott

Art by Amanda Conner
When I started my GUNDAM reviews, I noted that I'm not a huge anime/manga person, which is true. However, I do like the art style quite a bit. I even bought a few of the DC "Bishoujo" statuettes based on that style (I own one single Ame-Comi figure as well).

I've read a few things by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and generally liked what I saw, so I figured on a lark that I would check out the AME-COMI GIRLS trade paperback when it was released (it didn't hurt that exaggerated female anatomy and skimpy costumes are right up my alley as a discerning collector).

The story is a reimagining of several DC characters, set in a universe where all the superhumans seem to be women -- either female versions of male characters like the Flash, Robin, and Steel, or simply characters like Power Girl and Batgirl filling the roles of Superman and Batman, respectively.

The story is told via one-shot issues focusing on the different characters, but also contributing to the overarching plot. It begins in a WONDER WOMAN one-shot, where Princess Diana of Themyscira travels to America to open diplomatic relations, and winds up fighting the Cheetah. We learn in the second one-shot, BATGIRL, that Cheetah is part of a group of villainesses including Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy, and led by Duela Dent (known in the mainstream DC Universe as the Joker's daughter and/or Two-Face's daughter). The Batgirl story ends on a cliffhanger, which continues into the third one-shot, DUELA DENT -- revealing that Duela and her group are in cahoots with Brainiac (here a barely-dressed green woman) to destroy the Earth (except Gotham City).

Batgirl and Robin by Sanford Green
Duela's story also ends on a cliffhanger, but it is not resolved immediately. Instead, the fourth one-shot, POWER GIRL, reveals that the titular heroine is essentially this universe's version of Superman, having been raised in Smallville by Jonathan and Martha Kent. But Power Girl isn't the only Kryptonian female on Earth. Supergirl soon arrives as well, having been sent from the future to stop Brainiac. When the Manhunter robots (also females) show up to arrest Supergirl on behalf of the Guardians of the Universe, the last daughters of Krypton team up. Their story is continued into the SUPERGIRL one-shot, which finds Brainiac attacking Smallville to kill the Kryptonians.

The Manhunters then team up with our heroines, and the arrival of the rest of Earth's superhumans (Steel, Flash, and Robin, now joined by the defected Catwoman) leads to a battle royale with Duela's group and Brainiac's robots. Finally, when Brainiac captures Supergirl and turns her to the dark side, Wonder Woman arrives to even the odds, and the volume ends on a cliffhanger.

This is a fun little story, though it suffers from some uneven artwork. The first chapter is mostly magnificent, thanks to the always amazing Amanda Conner, but when Tony Akins takes over for her partway through the issue, there's a noticeable drop in quality. The Batgirl installment, drawn by Sanford Greene, has a great energy to it, but the art is too scratchy and unfinished-looking for my tastes. Ted Naifeh provides illustrations for Duela's issue, and is far too stiff and workmanlike. Fortunately, things pick up for the final two chapters. Mike Bowden does an impressive Joe Madureira pistache for Power Girl, and Santi Casas turns in a spectacular Supergirl story, which, combined with the most appropriate coloring in the volume, provides a very cel-shaded anime look; the closest any of the stories gets to resembling the genre which would've inspired this material in the first place.

The most appropriate art in the book, by Santi Casas
The scripting is a little rough as well. Very few characters use contractions naturally, and some of the more expository sentences are awkward. Also, I was extremely confused by the fact that first-person narrative captions would randomly appear out of nowhere, and that characters would suddenly recap previous events in the middle of an issue, even if those events had just taken place in the same chapter. But then when I began to notice that the pages in most chapters are broken down into very clear grids with larger-than-normal space between the top and bottom sets of panels, I realized this story must have debuted in another serialized format first. And sure enough, it turns out the story was a digital exclusive before it received a print edition. Once I got that through my skull, I continued to read the story with the same mindset as reading a collection of newspaper strips, and the above-listed peculiarities didn't bother me any more.

Anyway -- though some of the art is weak and the scripting could've used a bit more polish, overall I enjoyed this volume. Palmiotti and Gray seem to be having fun creating their own spin on the DC Universe with nothing more than a series of figurines as their inspiration. And when the art is good, it's quite good, indeed. I will most likely pick up the second volume whenever it comes out, to see how the cliffhanger is resolved. I just hope subsequent artists are more in the mold of Conner and Casas, and that the coloring continues to be in line with the cel-shaded look of the final chapter -- a style which really helps to sell the Japanese influence on these designs.

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