I think, oftimes, that somewhere within this crusty 45-year-old male heterosexual exterior beats the heart of a 15-year-old girl. Now please, don't get skeeved out by this admission- I just bring this up to try and rationalize my predilection towards sequential fiction that involves plucky young heroines that find themselves in often bizarre and dangerous situations, to wit: Leave it to Chance, Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures, Jingle Belle, Sheriff Ida Red, Courtney Crumrin... and now, the latest from Courtney creator Ted Naifeh: POLLY AND THE PIRATES, due out in a couple of weeks from Oni Press.
It's very much in that prim Gloom Cookie/Courtney Victoriana-Goth groove, and really, with Naifeh at the helm how could it not be? Which is not to say that it's heavy handed or overdone- actually, he plays it light this time, like almost Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-style, with a subtle hint of Terry Gilliam's Monty Pythonisms or even a Gilbert & Sullivan feel (sans songs, of course). Polly is a meek young girl who lives in a boarding school with her impetuous friend Anastasia Van Vervendander. Turns out that our Polly is connected somehow to legendary pirate queen Meg Malloy, and her pirate crew keeps trying to kidnap her. And that's where the story ends. Mostly setup, for sure, but the characters are likeable, Naifeh's art is, as always, solid and imaginative, and I'm looking forward to reading this in its entirety.
Some other reviews, which I didn't get around to via LAST CALL:
Not exactly Villains United, but pretty darn close as Selina spends most of this issue confronting Captain Cold (we're led to believe it's Mr. Freeze, in an amusing twist) and by extension the group of bad guys who are threatening to invade her beloved East End of Gotham City. She's forced to choose between fighting them and joining them, and if you think she's going to really join them, well, I used the "choice real estate" joke last week so you'll just have to figure it out for yourself. Wil Pfiefer's script reads well enough, and moves along at a decent clip so it's not dull...but these semi-superheroics just aren't yanking my crank just yet. I am getting some serious tuggage from Pete Woods' dynamic art, though- right now, his stuff is worth the price of admission. B+
ASTRO CITY: THE DARK AGE 3
If you've been liking this maxiseries so far, then you'll find more of the same here. Busiek is still displaying a lot of skill and craft as he puts his heroes and villains through their motions, and doesn't scrimp on the "regular guy" viewpoints of the events, either. And Brent Anderson's art is...well, it's Brent Anderson's art, OK? Well done, but I'm just not all that engaged. There's just too much deja vu all over again, a creeping overfamiliarity that feeds my ennui. Maybe it will read better in one sitting, in trade format for those of you who are curious. Me, I suppose I'll continue to buy at least one more issue, to see how this turns out, but after that all bets are off. B
A little light story-wise here, even for Bendis, and especially for an "anniversary issue" as we get the big reveal on who stole the power crystal of the Blackguard character, and Deena Pilgrim gets another step closer to her eventual moral trainwreck. Making it all a lot more dynamic than it oughtta be is Mike Avon Oeming's as-always outstanding art. Another solid, if not particularly wow-inspiring chapter. A-
Coming soon: Brian Clopper's Far-Fetchers.