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Matt writes...

My Review For Bad Guys #5, "Strangled"...

- The first thing I did upon checking in at the Gathering this year was seek out my copy of Bad Guys, Volume 1 and read it. Couldn't go through the Gathering out of the loop, could I? Anyway, the point is that I first read this chapter several weeks ago, and many times since then. I'll try to focus on my initial thoughts, however.

- As usual, I'll start with the cover. After a very cool "Louse" cover, it seems we are back to the somewhat dull 'Wanted' poster covers. It isn't that I don't think these covers are a fun way of highlighting the character of focus in the chapter, 'cause it works well for that purpose, but in terms of drawing new readers in, in terms of color and action, they just don't grab me. This cover is also the only one we don't get to see in color at all, which is a shame, but since it doesn't strike me as being particularly colorful anyway, I suppose we are not missing too much by only seeing it in b&w.

- Moving on to the content, we start off back at our island battle. A cool thing here is that these island battle scenes have moved from being flashbacks and become the current story (intercut with new flashback scenes). So, a robot has its grip on Hunter and Dingo really gets to be the hero here. He flies in at high speed, rescues the damsel in distress and vanquishes the monster. Fun stuff and a cool sequence, and the strongest indication yet of the relationship between Dingo and Hunter. Too bad Hunter has no interest in being a damsel. She is so fun as she lets her guard down for a second and then snaps back into tough-girl mode. I get the sense that Dingo both loves and hates that about her.
Meanwhile, Yama saves Fang without a word (quite the contrast between these two and Hunter and Dingo). Yama dives down to the island and immediately draws his swords to take on a couple smaller 'bots. This is a fun little battle also. It is neat to see that when Yama is disarmed, he still has his natural weapons, his strength and claws. A gargoyle without weapons is still a gargoyle.
So, Hunter comes crashing in and the others land nearby, bringing our team back together. There is a brief moment where Dingo helps Hunter to her feet and she brushes him off followed a few moments later by him guarding her from the supposed trap behind the island doors, which she again ignores. These two really get a lot of subtle, but fun, play in this chapter. Of course, the Hunter-Dingo relationship serves as a great reference to Harry's relationship with his mother.

- And speaking of Harry's mother, lets not forget these very interesting flashbacks. We get to learn a lot about Dingo's past. We see that he was a good kid that came from a rough part of town and was raised by a seemingly 'good guy'. A simple thief who raised poor Harry to live a life of crime. It really makes me want to go back and watch some of those Pack episodes again. Dingo was always the good guy doing the bad guy thing. Which is, of course, a fun contrast to John Oldcastle, the bad guy doing the good guy thing. I recall at the 2008 Gathering in Chicago, Karine had a panel in which she talked about various issues she had drawing this chapter (which she had been doing at the time). One thing she mentioned in particular was that one panel was simply hard to draw due to the content. I remember thinking to myself that after drawing a suicide, what could be worse. I suppose the answer should've been obvious given the title of the chapter, but the last page of the comic was a surprise to me. Pretty sick, this John. I have to wonder why he killed Mariah though. What happened? And he seems to so calmly adopt and raise Harry afterwards. Anyway, a true villain. Which is ironic since Dingo seems to think somewhat highly of the man, though I get ahead of myself.

- Anyway, so the Squad moves into the island itself. Matrix gets a brief moment to shine here (haha), and the team comes across the most hilarious piece of art a secret society would ever possess, a giant tapestry with their insignia on it. "Guess we came to the right secret lair." Uh, yeah. And after this long battle with the drab, mindless robots outside we get this quick battle with this colorful bunch of characters inside. These new people are fun. They've got some neat tricks. I love how easily 'Doll' takes out Fang. And the dude with the swords taking on both Yama and Matrix is a lot of fun too. But Dingo knows this Pistol guy and immediately guesses who else is around. So John (AKA Falstaff) makes his appearance. I have to admit that I don't know much about the Shakespearean Falstaff, but this guy is quite the character. We saw that he had gained a lot of weight through the montage of training Harry, but here he has obviously been living the easy life. I love that he walks around with a turkey leg this whole scene. He ominously welcomes Dingo and his friends to "Eastcheap Isle" (uh, haven't you been attacking them the whole time?) and then 'strangles' Dingo with a bearhug. Creepy. Falstaff is an interesting character. He seems so cheerful and friendly and Santa Claus-like that you have to like him, but knowing what he has done... Well, suffice to say that Greg Weisman really likes to push the boundaries in Bad Guys of what is right and wrong, who is good and bad and who we are supposed to like or dislike. Fun stuff.

- So, all in all, a great chapter. We got a lot of interesting background on Dingo and finally moved beyond the Bad Guys Leica Reel. The story order is well laid out. The flashbacks don't just inform the present story, they are a rich part of it, enhancing it. When going from a present day scene to one of the flashbacks, there is no jarring shift because the two seemingly separate stories work so well together. It is very reminiscent of the Stone of Destiny story in the main Gargoyles comic in that the presence of a flashback at a particular moment actually adds new insight that wouldn't have been so clear had the story been told entirely chronologically. I suppose this is what Greg meant when he said that working the Stone of Destiny story has helped in how he wrote Bad Guys. Anyway, truly brilliant, great stuff!

Greg responds...

Thanks. Glad you liked it.

Definitely felt freed up by the Stone of Destiny arc. It helped me use the medium better.

Response recorded on March 02, 2010