Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Comics: National Comics: Looker #1

Last week I reviewed National Comics' Rose and Thorn.  I was able to pick up another #1 National Comics issue:  Looker.

Looker is actually a character that has been around for a long while and was once a member of the Batman assault group: the Outsiders.  Here she is getting a chance to take the spotlight.

From the outset they spill the beans that Looker (real name: Emily Briggs) is a vampire.  And while lately vampire stories have been a dime a dozen, this story still felt very fresh.  Vampires characters tend to take one of two paths:  either they are tortured by their transformation or they grow drunk with blood and power.

Looker doesn't take either route.  The first pages show her transformation when she was just an rising star in the modeling industry and then we transition to her new state in a rather matter-of-fact way.  Her vampirism is not a curse.  Nor is it a corruption.  She deals with it like she developed a life-changing disease that she now manages.

By taking this new route, the book can let her personality really shine.  Looker is hardened by years of being in the brutal fashion industry, but she has grown a new sense of responsibility.  What is so fascinating about the character is how much of her old life that she holds on to and folds into her new life.

The story centers around 2 of her models from the company she now runs.  She uses her resources (both natural and supernatural) to track them down.  It's like The Devil Wears Prada meets an episode of Joss Whedon's Angel.  And it works because writer Ian Edgington takes both the world of fashion and the world of fantasy very seriously.

When Looker gets into a fight with the main bad guy, he slashes her arm.  She looks at the cut through her coat, gets angry and screams as she attacks, "That was COUTURE!"

What should be an absolutely ridiculous line actual works incredibly well.  She knows that she's in the fight of her life, but she focuses on her obsession with fashion to keep her from losing her composure.

It is also a nice touch that now that she is a vampire, she can no longer be a  model because her image cannot be photographed.  And because of her condition, she has to shrink from the spotlight.  Besides her close assistants, the only one who ever really "sees" her is a blind sculptor.  And because he can recreate what he "sees" with his hands, he's able to give her back a kind of reflection.

This book could have easily been throw-away schlock.  But it is a fun story with a charismatic lead.  Artist Mike S. Miller does a great job of making the book sleek and vibrant.  He does a great job of interpreting character through body language.  There is one panel in particular where Emily is huddled in the shadow, testing the sunlight with her finger.  It is such a sad and vulnerable shot that I couldn't help but feel for the character.

I am close to saying that National Comics is the best book DC is publishing.  I think the idea to give the spotlight each month to a new character with a new creative team means that each issue is forced to knock it out of the park.  And so far they have.

So far I would recommend any comic under the National Comics banner.

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