Saturday, April 30, 2011

Exfanding Review: Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding Album

As mentioned way back in Monday's post, I did some serious comics-centric reading this past weekend. And, almost to the book, everything I read was good.

Surprisingly good, in some cases.

And I feel like, with all of the gloom and doom talk about the comics industry these past couple of months ("Sales are down!" "Prices are too high!" "Digital will doom us all!" "Print will doom us all!" "Comic books have writers?"), comics needs some positive talk.

Fortunately, I can provide the Internet with just that today. See? I do serve a purpose.

Recently, I've been on a bit of a Judd Winick kick. I've always been a fan of his writing, but ever since the excellent, direct-to-DVD Under the Red Hood came out last fall from DC Entertainment, I've made an effort to seek out books with Winick's name on them.

Like Power Girl, for instance.

Not in a hundred years would I think I'd ever buy a Power Girl book on a monthly basis. More than that, though, I'd never imagine caring about Power Girl as a character. But the recent Winick-written series is...well.

It's flat-out good, is what it is.

So, while on one of my frequent visits to a comics shop, I decided to pick up a series I remember thinking looked pretty good when it came out in single issues.

Written by Winick and drawn by the immensely talented Amanda Conner and Cliff Chiang, Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding Album, proved to be exactly what I've come to expect from a Judd Winick comic.

Fast-paced, but with good emotional and character beats, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are some truly funny lines here--something Winick excels at (just read Barry Ween)--and, even better, the book serves as an easy-to-jump-into story for just about anyone who wants to read it.

Going in, all you need to know is that Green Arrow and Black Canary have been in a long-term, tumultuous, passionate, up and down relationship over the past couple of (real time) decades, and that GA has a son, Conner. Oh and that Roy Harper used to be GA's teenage sidekick, Speedy.

That's literally about all you need.

The Wedding Album deals with the marriage of the two iconic DC characters, and then the immediate fallout. And oh boy, is there fallout.

I won't spoil anything here, so you'll have to read the book to find out what causes all of that fallout. And I've officially used "fallout" too many times in one post.


Right. So, back to the book.

Winick has a unique and wonderful take on all of these big DC characters, including Batman and Superman, who make brief but memorable appearances. Superman, particularly, is handled in a way I've not seen before, and there's a page with Green Arrow and Big Blue that honestly made my eyes water up, just a little bit.

Seriously, folks. I do have feelings and emotions. It's not all hard, bitter chocolate shell. There is some nougat in there.

The story is a fun romp, almost silly at just the right places, and dead serious at others. A perfect blend of what a super hero comic should be, I think. And the art. Well, the art is great.

Amanda Conner, as always, is the queen of "acting" in comics; the facial expressions on her characters are spot-on, and instead of the typical, blank, stoic look we're so used to seeing on these characters' faces, Conner's players emote, and their facial ticks correspond to what is happening in the book.

And Cliff Chiang's art, as always, is worth the price of admission alone.

Now, I did have a problem with the book--not the story, mind you, but the book itself. I picked up the hardcover version (they just look better on the shelf, don't they?), which came out before the softcover.

And I'm willing to bet that I have the first print of a hardcover that DC wanted very badly to reprint quickly. And not just because reprints mean the first printing sold through.

You see, there are a lot of grammatical errors in this collection.

I hesitate to bring this up, being an editor myself and knowing exactly how many things have to happen just to ensure that a book makes its deadline. And, normally, I would never bring it up, but I feel like this is a special case.

I can live with typos (though improper use of "its" and "it's" and people who don't use running commas drive me INSANE), and typically a typo in a book or comic won't even register enough for them to be an issue.

But here, I was actually taken out of the story, completely, on the first page of three or four of the issues that are collected.

And, since a collected edition is, by nature, a repurposed product, there really shouldn't be many errors. Sure, here or there a typo is fine--you'd be surprised at what's caught by someone in the very last read through of a book.

But this was excessive.

I'm assuming it was fixed in a later printing of the hardcover, and most certainly in the softcover trades.

Sorry. That's the editor nerd in me.

And I don't want that last bit to dissuade anyone from picking up the book. Because it's very good, and very much worth your time. Check it out, and tell them Exfanding sent you.

Tell who? I have no idea. Them. Tell them. Just do it.

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Enjoy your Saturdays, Exfanders.

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