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Battle Hymn #3
posted August 19, 2005
B. Clay Moore, Jeremy Haun, Dave Bryant, Greg Thompson
Image Comics, 28 pages, $2.95, June 2005
I don't know if there are lot of Golden Age-type character comics written in more relatively modern times; I remember Roy Thomas did a lot of them in maybe the late 1980s and the writer James Robinson made his name on a series with Paul Smith called Golden Age. In Robinson's work and in those works by Alan Moore which take place either in the time of old comics or with memories of those times playing a role, there seems to be some sort of attempt at commenting on the material while working with it. Moore complicates matters in Watchmen by putting an attempted rape at the core of a 1940s group drama; Robinson uses a more serious approach to smaller character moments but puts everything in the context of a plot concerning Hitler's brain. It's not so much I'd expect every comic about the 1940s to have some sort of point to make about the comics of the time, but the fact that the only ones I can really remember in any detail have some of that kind of business indicates to me that without something more interesting at its cores, what you really have left is the comics themselves, with or without the v-chip.
Battle Hymn #3 is an episode of pretty standard melodrama. One character acts out of sorts and kill another character. Characters have adult impulses -- revenge, sex -- rather than, for the most part, altruistic ones. I'm not inclined to either the character presented here or the characters they might represent to really care about points of plot advancement in and of themselves. Also there is very little imagination on display the way the strip's horrifying act of volence is depicted, although if you're like me, you may have been waiting for one. All in all, I don't see this as a title people are likely to remember three minutes after they stop reading, either in terms of an intriguing plot of skillful resoluton. The one thing I'll likely remember most is how dark everything looks, like the whole book had been soaked in something before being dried and put back on the shelf.