Friday, March 6, 2015


Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artists: Adam Archer, Steven Cummings, Horacio Domingues, Ted Naifeh,
Eduardo Francisco, Andres Ponce, & Ruben Gonzalez
Colorists: Randy Mayor, Wes Hartman, & Adam Archer | Letterer: Wes Abbott

Like volume 2, this third installment of AME-COMI GIRLS opens with a large-scale threat uniting all the characters, followed by some smaller pieces. This time the major villainess is Sinestra. Armed with her yellow and black power rings and an army of Black Lanterns, she invades first the planet Thanagar and then proceeds to Earth. Alana Strange, a scientist/adventuress from the planet Rann, rescues Shyera "Hawkgirl" Hol from Thanagar and together they recruit Earth'e heroines to oppose Sinestra.

The womens' ace in the hole is Metra, the first of a race of "New Gods", who arms the entire group with white power rings to combat Sinestra. They do their best but aren't a match for their foe, dropping one by one to her Black Lanterns, and it is Metra's direct intervention which saves the day in the end as she reveals that Sinestra is possessed by the Black Hand, and reborths both halves of this evil as twin planets of light and darkness.

First off -- White Lanterns? Black Lanterns? I know -- it sounds silly, but here in this alternate universe story, completely unrelated to actual DC continuity, it's a fun little diversion. Let's just hope nobody ever reads this story and gets the asinine idea to insert a spectrum of Lantern colors into the mainstream DCU! That would be... dopey, I guess, to say the least.

(This concludes the scathing sarcastic commentary portion of our post.)

I'm really not sure what I make of this story. It's certainly not the strongest work I've read from Palmiotti and Gray (and for some reason, since starting this blog, I've read a lot of their work). We get a full chapter introducing Hawkgirl and Alana Strange, and then the fight against Sinestra begins soon after. But the united heroines' efforts amount to nothing and they're saved by a deus ex machina when Metra jumps into the fray. Kind of makes one wonder why they just bothered to read the preceding several pages. We had the impression from previous volumes that Power Girl was more or less the protagonist of this series, but she does next to nothing during the fight, other than surviving until the end alongside Wonder Woman.

The artwork in the first chapter starts off fine thanks to Horacio Domingues, but when Ted Naifeh takes over partway through, the crisp cleanliness vanishes and the story just isn't fun to look at. Naifeh is absolutely not a match for this series' cute manga influence. Then, perplexingly, the second chapter -- showcasing the epic struggle against Sinestra -- starts off with beautiful anime-looking work from Eduardo Francisco, and suddenly Domingues is the weak link when he takes over partway through the action. It would be nice if a single artist could draw each chapter, as was the case for most of the series' first volume, but that hasn't happened for a while now.

Following the Sinestra story, artwork continues to come from Domigues and Francisco for a tale spotlighting a girl who I assume is the Flash of the "dark" Earth, though this is never clearly explained. We've already seen the Flash previously, but this version of the character is a zombie. She's recruited by Red Raven to join the Teen Hellions, a group comprised of Starfire, Tempest, Beast Girl, and Cyborg. Flash works with the Hellions to fight Raven's father, Trigon, who eventually retreats after Raven promises to come visit him more often.

This Flash story is perhaps the biggest groaner of the AME-COMI GIRLS lot. It's intended to be funny, with the interactions between the Teen Hellions and Raven's conversations with her father, but all the jokes fall flat. The best thing about it is Domingues' and Francisco's depiction of Trigon's true form: a short, portly version of the Classic George Pérez character design.

The volume's final chapter features a trio of short stories about Big Barda, White Canary, and Mera of Atlantis. The artwork in this segment is the strongest yet, coming from Adam Archer and Steven Cummings. Archer gives us a semi-Joe Madureira impression, full of energy and expression (though his characters' eyes are occasionally freakishly large). His rendition of Ame-Comi Barda, the single figure I own from the line, is wonderful. Cummings, meanwhile, turns in some nicely crisp, cel-shaded and anime-influenced work.

These stories are the best in the volume as well, as Barda and her Female Furies face off against the evil Empress Darkseid, White Canary is recruited to the Justice League, and Mera battles her half-sister, Black Manta. Palmiotti and Gray seem to be much better at these little character pieces than at the big epic stuff, which more often than not falls flat despite what I assume are their best efforts. If there's any objection to be had over these stories it's that they're maybe just a bit too short. While a full chapter would have been too much to devote to any one of these tales, a segment split evenly in half could have been a better way to go.

In the end I'm not sure what I make of AME-COMI GIRLS at this point. I thought volume 1 was fun and cute and 2 was pretty good as well. But both those volumes focused on a core cast of characters, the group who would form the Justice League -- Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Robin, the Flash, and Steel. New characters were introduced through the eyes of this group. But volume 3 is mostly disappointing, throwing new characters out too quickly with little or no point of reference to the original cast and, honestly, featuring only one legitimately enjoyable segment. If there's a fourth book in the series, I'm not sure whether I'll pick it up.

No comments:

Post a Comment