Friday, June 04, 2004

For those with an itch...

Picked up Scratch #1 ($2.50) at my local shop this week, and I can't really say that it was fantastic. Now, don't get me wrong, it is Sam Keith, and the man is always great, but this particular story lacks that certain charm most of his work seems to have. His stuff from the last few years (Four Women, Legs, the Zero Girl stories, along with his Wolverine/Hulk series at Marvel) have all been brilliantly executed, so I was expecting no less here. Sadly, it was a bit of a let down. The character of "Scratch" seemed a bit underdeveloped, not to mention his new friends. The main plot is a bit cliche (towns people try to drive out freaks with torches and pithforks, that sort of thing) and the art doesn't seem nearly as colorful and inventive as Sam's usual work, I think his recent cover work for Marvel was far better. Of course there are alot of things to consider here, first of all he's going to be dealing with Batman, which I'm sure DC is hoping will be a selling point for the book, so it may have been necessary to get the initial set up out of the way, leaving plenty of time to spend on Bats. Not necessarily a bad decision, it just doesn't leave you with any emotional connection to "Scratch." Second, Sam's work almost always reads better in a collected form. In fact I can't think of any exceptions to that, at least when he's working on characters he's created. Maxx and Epicurus (Both with Messner-Loebs, in fact Epicurus was written solely by Messner-Loebs, so scratch that pun intended there) certainly read better that way, as do the Zero Girl stories. Four Women and Hulk/Wolverine are almost required to be read that way, otherwise the shock of the stories lose a bit of their edge. I will say this, for the page or so that Batman is in the book, Keith makes me want more, in fact I was giddy with anticipation after reading his portrayal, but the subsequent story of "Scratch's" origin left me somewhat cold.

I will say I'm probably jumping the gun on this, trying to form an opinion about something that isn't even halfway through is a bit like watching ten minutes of a 90 minute movie and deciding you don't like it. I'm crossing my fingers that the story goes somewhere, or that at the very least we get more Bats, because Keith has a great handle on him. Here's hoping.


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