Sorry for the lag time between reviews. I’d been hoping one of the books I’ve been reading would turn out to be so amazingly awesome I’d just have to write the best review ever. Sadly, this was not the case. (Looking Glass Wars was just a little underwhelming. You too, Dead Witch Walking.) So I dug through my bookshelf, looking for something super wonderful that more people just have to read.
Why hello there, Scissors, Paper Stone, I think you’ll do nicely.
In a recent Comic Issues Podcast we talked about “gateway comics,” books that can get you hooked on a new genre, author, series…whatever. And Scissors, Paper, Stone is the perfect Adam Warren gateway comic.
Published as part of DC’s “Elseworlds” line, it’s a one-shot, so there’s no huge backstory the reader needs to learn. (Though if you’re at least a little familiar with Teen Titans, the book’s going to be much more fun for you.) And while Adam Warren’s been known to show lots of nearly-naked chicks in his books, this comic has a good balance between the guys and the girls, and they’re all (mostly) clothed.
I don’t mind some sexy near-naked goodness myself (ThugBoy in Warren’s Empowered series just gets better with less clothes) but a good gateway comic appeals to a broad range of people. Scissors, Paper, Stone is a chance to experience Adam Warren’s delicious artwork even if you’re not usually a fan of his more scantily-clad heroines. (*cough Dirty Pair cough*) (Which I think you’d still like.)
And the artwork really is delicious, a pseudo-manga style with crisp ink work and bold, bright colors. (The inks are by Tom Simmons, the colors by Joe Rosas; both are fantastic.) All the pages are packed with motion and expression, and they’re so detailed you’ll probably want to read it once for the story and then go back and pick up all the tidbits in the art you missed the first time. There’s so many subtle little details: a cameo from another manga series hidden in a crowd scene, a weird bit of futuristic graffiti, a character’s T-shirt that changes with his mood, and more. I’ve owned this comic for fifteen years and I’m still finding new things buried in the art.
And of course there’s the story, also written by Warren; in an extremely distant future a cocky student of the occult learns of an impending disaster. She (very cutely) browbeats three students at the same school (a graphics major, a xenobiology lab assistant, and a jock) to help save their home. The kicker is, she’s going to tap into the energy of “mystical belief systems.”
Which in this case means old superhero stories in general, and the Teen Titans stories in particular. So she and her friends will each represent a different Titan, but you don’t have to be a fan of the Titans to understand what’s going on. It’s a brilliant idea, all very well thought out and very clearly told, with a seriously kick-ass ending.
After reading this book, I really think you’re going to want to go out and find more of his artwork. He’s had fifteen years to get even better than Scissors, Paper, Stone, and he was mind-bogglingly good to begin with. And if you don’t like it, well, maybe you should try the more scantily-clad books. I hear Empowered vol. 7 is coming out May 30th.
Speaking of gateway comics, and getting hooked, I could really use a ThugBoy fix.