The Question #37
Script: Dennis O’Neil, Greg Rucka
Pencils: Denys Cowan
Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz, John Stanisci
Colors: David Baron
February 3, 2010
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Well, I’m just going to rip the figurative Band-Aid off this bitch: The art sucked. Let me be clear; I usually marvel at the talent of the folks who draw, ink, and color these funny books I heart so much — but I did not enjoy the visuals in this issue like at all. It seemed intentionally overdone. Too much pencil. Too much ink. It was reminiscent of the Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge miniseries. (I heard it was good, but I didn’t read it because the art irritated me so.) The panels lacked any real definition or fluidity, and most of the images were stiff silhouettes. As someone who appreciates the female form, I’ma need ya to do better — especially in a story featuring my two favorite DC women. There was barely any difference between Shiva’s face and Renee’s face, despite the fact that they are of different ethnic backgrounds. Clothes and length of hair were the only defining qualities. That aside, the fight scenes were well-communicated, and a few panels somehow managed to transcend the overall stiffness. Now, on to the juice:
The issue opens with a montage of monuments and memories of Charles Victor Szasz. Cut to Renee and Tot discussing the dead rising. Tot, the scientist, is enthralled by an experiment related to the Black Lanterns when Renee hears something. Enter my favorite sociopath. (Heart leaps with joy; people in restaurant have no idea why I have such a stupid smile on my face.) My hope is requited, and Rucka and O’Neil delivered. Lady Shiva’s entrance was flawless.
Now let’s get down to some martial arts, which is really the crux of this issue. We get to see the Renee/Shiva mashup. Renee reluctantly puts up a good fight, to which Shiva responds, “Adequate. Good. This will not be as boring as I feared.” Cue Renee, who responds, “Lady, you are ten pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag.” HA! I loved that damn line.
During their duel/dance, Tot was busy with his science experiment, which, as far as I could tell, was concocting a Black Lantern ring all on his own. That led to the explosive arrival of Back Lantern Charlie, and just in time to distract Shiva from delivering her kill blow. It seems the nutbar really wanted to face the Black Lantern all along. You know, just ’cause. As BL Charlie looks upon Renee and Shiva, we see their true colors: Indigo and green, respectively. Perfect.
A well-informed Shiva schools Renee that, “Not every battle ends with defeat of the enemy.” She then meditates herself into an emotion-free state, making her invisible to the Black Lantern. Pardon me while I log on to http://www.awesome.org/shivaissogangsta. Lady Shiva is like a masochistic (and way hotter) Yoda with proper syntax.
Finally, Renee and Tot follow Shiva’s lead by letting go of their emotions for their dead loved one, thus becoming invisible. The Black Lantern takes off. Renee dons her costume, determined to follow the monster and stop it — which means we’ll be seeing more of her in this event. Works for me.
Overall, The Question #37 was an effing good read. Lady Shiva was treated properly, and the story was exciting. It was not what I expected, but the story was perfect for its characters. If you have even the tiniest bit of interest in Charlie, Renee, Tot or Shiva, it’s definitely worth your $2.99.
I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Gail Simone. Her writing is smart, interesting and fun, and she can write the hell out of a kick-ass chick. Many of my favorite characters are so because of her capable hand in their development. At the top of that list is Lady Shiva. I’ll keep it real. I didn’t know much about Sandra Wu-San until she showed up in Birds of Prey. OK, I didn’t know much of anything before I read BoP, but there was a long list of supporting characters throughout Simone’s arc. Shiva was my favorite by far.
As we’ve seen in Secret Six, no one does amoral with Gail’s flair. Amoral characters are intriguing because they do the things our conscience and social mores prevent us from doing. We get to live our fantasies through them, and their writers aren’t limited by pesky issues like virtue. Plus, Shiva is a straight-up beast. She’s kicked more asses than you’ve read comics. She’s fast, ingenious, wicked, and not at all afraid to die. That final fact alone makes her a force to be reckoned with. I firmly believe that she could defeat Deathstroke (See previous poll). All Shiva needs is a two-second window, and he’s done for — genetic engineering be damned. Shiva would engineer a beatdown. Continue reading