Thursday, December 20, 2007

Written by Mark Waid
Drawn by Paul Azaceta
Published by Boom Studios

The final two chapters of Mark Waid’s clever little procedural arrive and do a bit better job of showing the strength and flexibility of the concept. John Doe, who’s life’s mission is to put names to the anonymous dead, is approached by a woman who claims that her twin sister is among those in Potter’s Field, and she has a recent assault by local thugs to prove it. But of course, there’s a lot more to her story than that, and it could likely mean the end of Doe’s entire operation if he isn’t careful.

Doe himself is an intriguing heir to The Shadow, using a network of operatives to ferret out information about frozen cold cases and getting them closer to being written in black. In issue one, we got a slight one-off of a story; good, but nothing that really let the concept of what having a Doe running around a city would mean. But here, Waid allows more of the local New York flavor to kick in, and expands the character universe in order to give some dimension to the obstacles that someone doing this sort of work would face. Thus, it’s a far more gripping read, and there feels as though there’s something at stake for everyone involved. That makes for good comics.

Of course, it helps that Azaceta continues to grow as an artist, and his work is much more suited to this book than it was to TALENT. With a book with noir roots, like this one, you need someone who can deliver darker, edgier work on the page, and this stuff looks terrific.

The one problem I see here is that there needs to be more, especially for the eventual trade paperback. Right now, the added material is pretty slight. So… sequel anyone?


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