For some writers and artists, not being chosen for the DC Talent Workshop was just one of those things, a sign that they should work harder and try again next year.
For others, it was proof that DC had no intention of holding a genuine search for talent or would judge all candidates equally, because the company already had in mind some idea of just who and what they were looking for. With a sigh of regret or a case of sour grapes, countless budding creators have been waiting to see what skills those chosen few had to offer which they didn’t, and what made them stand out of the pack. And now is that time. Since there are nine separate stories in New Talent Showcase #1, each shall be reviewed individually as deserved. One of them is brilliant, two have potential, and the other six…
1) Constantine – writer Adam Smith (A), artist Siya Oum (A-):
Constantine travels to Hell so that he can settle some dysfunctional family matters between Zatanna and her father Zatara. But what he learns from Zatara teaches him that Hell is more than just a place, it’s a state of mind…
This was an intriguing sample of what could have been a brilliant story, if it had been continued. In fact, it’s fair to say that this was probably better than the current Hellblazer series. Not a bad start at all. The art is detailed but still has a unique style to it, and while the writing isn’t exactly classic Constantine it does avoid the pitfalls of reducing him to English stereotypes.
2) Wonder Woman – writer Vita Ayala (B+), artist Khary Randolph (B+):
Wonder Woman battles several monsters, but when the Flash tries to assist her he’s more of a hindrance than a help…
One of the biggest problems with all of these stories was the insistence on first-person narrative. It’s become an easy “out” for writers, and in this case the thoughts of Wonder Woman are little more than clichés whilst the story itself is dull. Whatever happened to solid, descriptive third-person narrative? Also, the artwork had some real low points, like the Flash’s strangely-shaped foot, his missing face and a general lack of detail in some panels.
3) White Lantern – writer Michael Moreci (B+), artist Barnaby Bagenda (A-):
A malevolent alien has taken refuge aboard an abandoned Green Lantern outpost in space. Meanwhile, White Lantern Kyle Rayner has to deal with a potential relationship problem when he thinks Carol may be pregnant…
This story begins well enough, despite it never being made clear who’s actually narrating the story. Then it slowly falls apart, with Kyle taking over the duties of narrator later on, between ridiculous bouts of talking to himself. Sure, yes, people do talk to themselves, but not like this. By the end, the whole thing feels like a wasted opportunity. While the art is pretty decent, there’s a slight problem with panel/page layouts, but nothing which can’t be fixed.
4) Hawkgirl – writer Erica Schultz (B-), artist Sonny Liew (C+):
In her secret identity, Hawkgirl investigates a murder involving an alien weapon. But, through a series of flashforwards, we learn that through her actions she may accidentally be unleashing mankind’s worst enemy – itself…
This is a case of the story being almost too clever for its own good, with an intriguing series of flashforwards making the reader curious. Unfortunately it’s let down by some shoddy leaps in logic, a woeful take on a police procedural, and some sub-standard art. Seriously, look at Hawkgirl’s hands which look disjointed or deformed, based on the panel, and the poor body poses of the characters.
5) Deadman – writer Christopher Sebela (A+), artist David Messina (A+):
It’s just another day for Boston Brand, better known as the ghostly Deadman. Unfortunately for him, that means a whole lot of boredom, broken up by some body-hopping heroics and some quiet time in a bar which really does serve spirits…
Easily the standout story of the whole issue, Christopher Sebela and David Messina offer up a simple tale which perfectly captures the melancholy existence of one of DC’s best, least-used characters. If this were part of an ongoing series, it would be one worth buying. It’s genuinely that good, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of their work in the future.
6) Wonder Girl – writer Hena Khan (B-), artist Emanuela Lupacchino and inker Ray McCarthy (A+):
Wonder Girl’s investigation into a series of mystical attacks leads to the return of an old boyfriend who supposedly died, and forces her to tell her mother about the circumstances about Diesel’s death. But is he really behind the attacks?
It’s a shame that a story with such outstanding artwork has such poor writing attached to it. The theory may be that this was intended for the Young Adult market, but the story was a series of juvenile clichés and too weak to be interesting and the dialogue seemed stilted. Still, the art is amazing and inker Ray McCarthy deserves as much credit as artist Emanuela Lupacchino.
7) Catwoman & Wonder Woman – writer Emma Beeby (B+), artist Minkyu Jung (A):
When Catwoman is chased by an order of assassins, she finds unlikely help in Wonder Woman, who hires her to pull off a heist worthy of the gods. Meanwhile, a man claiming to be Zeus decides to attack mankind in order to reclaim the power of the gods…
First of all, the art in this flows pretty smoothly and it would be good seeing this level of quality on Birds Of Prey. Sadly, it’s let down a little by a rather weak story and the by-the-numbers portrayal of the characters. It isn’t the worst of the bunch, but it’s definitely playing it safe and could have been better.
8) Superman – writer Michael McMillian (A-), artist Juan Farreyra (A):
Kal-El wasn’t the only alien to arrive in Smallville years ago, and the one who meets a local cop claims that he wants to save the world. In the present, Superman battles a giant Joker battlesuit piloted by a poisoned Lois Lane. Can the Man of Steel save the life of the woman he loves?
This was a strange one, but also one of the most intriguing. It’s a well-told story which leaves the reader wanting to know more, and the artwork is impressive. There may be the odd line of clunky dialogue, but for the first time in ages Superman also comes across with an almost Golden Age vibe as he projects an aura of being able to do almost anything.
9) Harley Quinn – writer JoElle Jones (C-), artist Sam Lotfi (B):
Harley’s back in Arkham, but when she sees news footage of a biohazard attack she takes it as a sign to stage a jailbreak. Or an asylumbreak, at the very least. With the Penguin, the Riddler and others, Harley becomes the ring-leader as the lunatics take over the asylum…
This is easily the weakest of all the New Talent Showcase #1 stories, and shows a lack of knowledge of the DCU. It may be fun seeing Harley do what Harley does, but there’s no reason for the Penguin to be there and even less for the Riddler to take orders from her, and the inmates manage to obtain high explosives and razor blades out of thin air. As for the art, it’s unimpressive and some more attention should be paid to Harley’s hands, since she seems to have two left ones…