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Review Date: 09/05/2008

 Green Arrow & Black Canary #11
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Mike Norton and Wayne Faucher
Cover by Cliff Chiang
Size: 32 Pages
Price: $2.99

     After reviewing a sub-par issue of Justice League last week, I was hoping that a read of this comic starring two Justice Leaguers would be an improvement, and it certainly didn't disappoint.  Issue #11 is part three of an ongoing story arc entitled "A League Of Their Own," written by Judd Winick, penciled by Mike Norton and inked by Wayne Faucher.
     The story centers on Green Arrow and Black Canary taking on perennial bad guy Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins, while at the same time trying to find and rescue Green Arrow's kidnapped son, Connor.  Batman and Plastic Man join the superhero duo in this installment of the story arc, with Batman proving early on that the League is being manipulated by a Ra's impersonator.  This leads to a reluctant and interesting alliance between the four good guys and the League of Assassins to solve the mystery of the impersonator's identity and motivation.
     There's a very well-plotted middle to this issue, serving as a flashback to how and why a certain League member joined the assassin's group in the first place, and the issue concludes with a nice surprise clue as a bridge to the next issue, as the search for both the Ra's imposter and Green Arrow's missing son continues.
     Judd Winick has hit a nice stride in writing this title.  The dialogue, action and sense of mystery is all mixed together very nicely, and it was all paced so well from page-to-page that I didn't want it to end.  It made me want to check-out the two previous story arc issues and also see how things proceed in issue #12.
     I also enjoyed Norton and Faucher's artwork very much.  While most D.C. comic art right now is excellent (at least in the books that I've been reading), it's all very detailed as the artists strive for a high degree of realism.  This team's artistic style is very conventional, more toward the style of superhero t.v. series animation.  It's a nice traditional comic book change of pace, and it feels more relaxed and enjoyable than a lot of the other ongoing comic's artistic styling.
     So all in all, with a mix of very entertaining storytelling and enjoyable old school artwork, along with an interesting mystery to keep the pages turning, this comic's both a thumb's-up and a just plain fun read.

 Daredevil #110
COVER BY:
MARKO DJURDJEVIC
WRITERS: GREG RUCKA AND ED BRUBAKER
PENCILS: MICHAEL LARKMICHAEL LARK
INKS: STEFANO GAUDIANO
COLORED BY: MATT HOLLINGSWORTH
LETTERED BY: CHRIS ELIOPOULOS

          Daredevil #110 is the concluding story in a multi-issue storyline entitled "Cruel & Unusual."  Its written by Eisner Award-winner Ed Brubaker along with Greg Rucka, and drawn by Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano.  Brubaker's been getting a lot of attention with his current scripting run of Daredevil, and issue #110 confirms that its well-deserved.  Page one includes a six-paragraph narrative of the story to-date, a detailed tale of blind lawyer Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Dardevil, trying to exonerate a death row convict who insists ontaking the fall for a murder he didn't commit. 
     The written story is superb, portraying involvement in the plot among federal security agencies, various crime figures and the well-established cast of Matt Murdock's friends and foes. Brubaker and Rucka are adept at weaving back and forth between Murdock dealing with his personal life struggles and the bigger superhero picture.  I really enjoyed how quite often they scripted Murdock as solving the major storyline mysteries in his civilian role, then donning the Daredevil costume just to wrap things up.  It makes for a much more complex and reality-based story and character.  Few writers can top Brubaker with his ability demonstrated in this issue of leading a very complex story to a complete and satisfying conclusion.
     I also have to give the writers grateful credit for their page one narrative that catches-up the reader to the previous story issues.  I've previously complained in some of these reviews that its often very difficult to pick-up a multi-issue storyline after the first issue.  Finally, a writing team that takes a moment right up-front to get the reader caught-up and into the action of the current issue!  I hope more writers follow their lead.
     While issue #110 is excellent, something very special is heading your way starting in the upcoming issue #111, with the teaming of Brubaker with guest artist Clay Mann for a new storyline starring the introduction of Lady Bullseye.  Marvel is heavily marketing this run, including a three-page preview at the end of the Daredevil Saga hand-out currently available at That's Entertainment.  The art and story preview look pretty special, so I'd recommend not missing-out on this upcoming story.
 

Contest Winner Announcement!

     The latest contest, asking you to pitch the generally popular superhero that you personally could easily do without, generated some very interesting responses.
     Ken Carson made a well-put, logical case for The Eternals, stating that they're pale copies of the Marvel Universe gods already existing, and that to him, these old Kirby creations don't seem to warrant the amount of attention that Marvel seems to be putting into promoting them at the moment.
     Mike Dooley made an interesting case for Green Lantern, e-mailing that his all-powerful, all-purpose power ring is too convenient for solving every situation, thereby making him too contrived and cartoonish.  Besides, Mike writes, he only has one ring, while Tom Brady has three!  So there!  In your face, Green Lantern!
     I asked you to go out on a limb and take a real chance on your pick, and Stu (no last name) went farther out on that limb than any of you, pitching Superman as not worth the ink!  I may not personally agree with you, but much credit to you, Stu, for taking me up on the challenge.
     But enough already, let's get to the judge's decision.  And the winner is...Ted Van Liew, with his submission of Marvel's character Antman as his favorite least useful, waste-of-ink character.  Ted nominated the Bugster on the case of him being a Marvel contrivance just to add the carbon-copy of an Atom-like character to the Marvel Universe.  Mix the dweeby ant helmet with the cheesy dialogue and personality often written for him and what do you get?  A guy who socializes with bugs but can still only lift his own weight!
     Congratulations, Ted, you win a box of chocolate ants!  Just kidding, see the good folks at That's Entertainment for you
r graphic novel prize.
     Thanks for all of the entries, and stay tuned for another contest announcement coming-up soon.

One More Comment & Then I'll Shut-Up For The Week Dept.

     Just a quick note, whether or not you're a fan of cartoonist Lynn Johnston's newspaper comic strip "For Better Or For Worse," check it out for yourself regarding something groundbreaking that the strip is starting. 
     Lynn has naturally aged the Patterson family characters in her strip over more than 20-plus years, and feels that she's done all she can in the direction that she took the strip. But instead of retiring it, starting on Monday, September 1 she wound back the clock and is starting all over again, with fresh strips and all of the characters reverting to the same age as when she started it.
     I don't think any cartoonist in the history of newspaper comics has ever put their characters in a time machine and started it all over again decades later, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays-out with both fans of her strip and the comic strip industry in general.

 
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