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The Perils of the High

Brian Hibbs

Look, a review (kind of!)!!

HUNTRESS YEAR ONE #1: I really don’t get the thinking behind this “Year one” series, for the most part — they seem to be focusing mostly on characters without their own books, and seemingly no particular thing coming up soon that they’re an important enough part that you’ve got to retell their origin. (cf METAMORPHO YEAR ONE) Huntress is largely a third string character, made much more so by decoupling her from being Batman-and-Selina’s child (the Earth-2 version). The Mafia-Princess-become-The-Punisher isn’t the worst idea ever, but it strikes me as being one of those inherently limited ideas that isn’t enough, in and of itself, to sustain a character.

Jeff Lester and I were discussing something similar a week or two back when he opined that he thought when they finally bring Captain America back from the dead that it might be cool if they more or less fully rebooted him to be Man From The Past in the Modern World he was circa AVENGERS #4.

I said, sure that’s cool, and could be interesting… for maybe (MAYBE) a year, then anything interesting about it really dissipates in the same way that I was amused by the first “Oh, what is this strange and mystical thing you call a ‘gas-o-leen pump’?” in Jodi Picault’s WONDER WOMAN run, but by the third one I was gagging and “get over it already!”

That’s the problem with High Concepts — as a general rule they’re designed for A story, possible two, maybe maybe you can push it to three, but then you need to reinvent things or else it stagnates. If a High Concept becomes what a book/character is ABOUT, then how and where can you care?

Fer example, I don’t think Superman is ABOUT “rocketed to earth as a baby, he fights for …the American Way”. Sure you can do a couple of stories that are exactly about being an immigrant and an outsider, but I doubt that your personal Top 10 Superman stories ever actually feature that as a significant theme

(*waits for Kurt Busiek to post and tell me how wrong I am about that one*)

So, that’s why “Mafia-Princess-becomes-The-Punisher” is clever enough, but it basically has no where to go from there — either she loses against the mob (which no one wants to read), or she beats them (which ends the arc/conflict), or she joins them (which can’t happen any longer in current continuity — she was a member of the JLA after all!)

In fact, what it has left us with is a character who basically is just “anger management issues”, which, again, is okay-ish, but also one that you can’t go very far with. I’m speaking as a recovering Angry Young Man here — it’s only charming up to a point.

Here’s the thing about this book: they can’t possibly expect it to sell more than, say, 30k copies, and I think I’m being wildly optimistic there and wouldn’t at all be surprised if it was 20k or under (like in CATWOMAN range). By the time it gets to issue #6, I’m guessing it will be 16k range or less, down to those kind of numbers that pretty much just represents the DCU fans with OCD who buy every DCU book because they HAVE to — does anyone really even think there are even 5k *Huntress* fans? (I don’t)

There’s no bursting market clamor for Huntress as a character, that I can see — and if there was, it almost certainly wouldn’t be for a retelling of her origin, over some form of new work. The writer, Ivory Madison, seems to be an established writer, but not one that has a big bold body of work behind her that could draw in vast new audiences, that I can really see from her website there (though, to be fair, it’s not like I’m the go-to guy for literary matters), so I’m really trying to figure out what the thinking involved here in green-lighting this series was.

Who knows, maybe its a little suck up to Paul Levitz.

As a comic book retailer, I am perpetually very nervous about overproduction, and this seems like such a misformed idea to me, one that really only exists to suck up another 1/20th of a point of market share, another 6 inches of rack space.

Be that as all of it may, the only question that matters at the end of the day is “Is it any good”, and really, this was OKAY. The writing is good enough, the art is competent, and I liked the color palette used, but I think that if you’re going to devote six issues to The Huntress, heck even more so, six issues to retell the origin of The Huntress, it really needs to be a whole heaping lot of better than just “OKAY”.

As always, what d0 YOU think?


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