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posted February 27, 2007
: Josh Simmons
Mini-comic, 24 pages, no price, 2007
Josh Simmons' mini-comic treatment of the world famous superhero icon surprises not because it's effective but because where the strong parts lie. Done in a densely-designed, tighter version of his basic approach, favoring full bodies and deep, shaded backgrounds, the book cooks along more in the action scenes. There's something about taking the character out of its slick, non-tactile conventional style that makes even the most basic actions look extraordinary: climbing a wall, swinging through the air, punching someone with a turn of the shoulder behind the balled fist. There's even some poetry in their movements, as when Simmons' Catwoman jumps off the side of an extremely tall building and moves -- "foff" -- through a low-flying cloud where we lose sight of her.
The plot, appropriately dark considering the author, feels like less of a departure from standard comics. Simmons' Batman is obsessive and depressed, determined to find a way to mark those who commit crimes so that he and others can tell the difference between the good people and the bad people. He ends up with a device that chops a huge amount of skin out of folks, and the one scene that goes a bit further than you might see in one of those special DC Comics event issues of seven to ten years ago involves Batman holding up some innocent person's lips he's gouged out to his own mouth and screaming through them in concert with the disfigured victim. Even something as icky as that fails to stick in my memory as much of the feeling Simmons evokes of the sheer gonzo nature of wanting to climb to the tops of the buildings and move amongst them. This is a strange and lovely little bootleg comic.