WIth Further Ado #012: 3 Girls – Under Cover

During the Halloween season, I always think of the three witch sisters from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. They were very similar to the Three Fates of classic mythology, those sisters who wove the destinies of every individual. And even if you don’t know anything about either of those sets of sisters, you probably know about TV’s Charmed sisters.  They are in the midst of a reboot that has lead to a backlash.

In my own family, the “three sisters concept” is a big deal. We are blessed with the 3 girls. (We do have one great boy too!)  These girls thoroughly embrace being part of their little sorority of three. So much so that I am always cognizant of a set of three girls and especially dads with three girls.

And that brings us to Brian Bendis and some new comics. 

Working for a new publisher, Brian Bendis has been a busy guy lately. He’s not only re-launching Superman, but also his own imprint, Jinxworld. As a part of that initiative, it struck me that he has three books with innovative female heroes: Scarlet, Pearl and Cover.  This week, I will examine these three series, essentially Bendis’ three new daughters.

Scarlet

Scarlet’s been around before, but we get to spend some time with her again in this new series.  Alex Maleev, the character’s co-creator, is back again too and he’s in top form. This comic brings all the anger and frustration that is part of nation’s current political atmosphere to a fictional scenario. If I were marketing this book, I’d say it was “torn from next year’s headlines”

This new first issue has an innovative sequence showing the main character’s “Firsts” – first kiss, first love. etc.   It’s a relatable sequence. Readers can compare and contrast their our own triumphs and heartbreaks, while learning a little more about the main character. This bit is worth the price of admission.

Pearl

Pearl kicks off with a gorgeous turquoise and rose cover. It’s unlike anything else on comic shop racks. Artist and co-creator Michael Gaydos keeps his foot on the gas throughout the whole issue. He’s changes gears several times, serving up different art styles. This makes for a surprising book, usurping the reader’s sense of comfort.

I had high hopes for this one, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to actually enjoy the ride. In Pearl, Bendis tells the story of a lithe tattoo enthusiast who just happened to be an assassin.  It’s unusual and offbeat. The true-to-the ear dialog could make even the late author Elmore Leonard shake his fists with envious rage at Bendis’ mastery of modern speech.

Bendis and Gaydos had together created Marvel’s Jessica Jones in the excellent Alias all those years ago, Looks like they might be onto something again.

As a bonus in this outing, you can see how far these two creators have come.  This debut issue also includes a reprint from early in their careers. “Citizen Wayne” was an Elseworlds Batman short story from the 90s.  (Keep an eye out for my in depth Elseworlds article next year in Back Issue Magazine #110.)  The premise is a mash-up of Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane and Batman.  After the skillfully rendered Pearl story in this book, this one serves as a reminder that everyone has to start somewhere.

Cover

Cover’s lead character is a male comic artist who is being recruited by a sexy super-spy to embark on undercover missions all around the the world. So technically, this one is a bit of a  force fit into the three daughters theme of the column.

This story offers a sideways glance, at the comic industry and the reality facing professionals at comic-conventions. Even the always-excellent Word Balloon Podcast, gets a shout-out.

Artist David Mack is a guy who should get that “hardest working guy in showbiz” type of accolade. He’s always cranking out his beautiful signature artwork, and then attending about 700 comic conventions each year. And at every show he’s always upbeat, smiling and personable. And with all that – his artwork on this comic is just what you’d expect – lovely, haunting and memorable.

[check out PCS’s reviews of the latest issues of Cover and Pearl here – AN]

Under Cover

James Bond used to claim he worked for “Universal Exports”. It was his cover story in the original Fleming books. That is so pedestrian when compared to subsequent spy thrillers.  Spies soon developed more interesting cover stories. For example, I Spy was a thrilling show (despite starring a comedian who would later become one of the most hated men in America)  about spies on the international Tennis Circuit.

But my favorite undercover spy series was undoubtedly Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids

What a guilty favorite! After the Saturday morning superhero craze ended on TV, young comic fans like me were still hungry for adventure stories.  Scooby Doo spawned many imitators, so all of a sudden there were teen groups having adventures and solving mysteries.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids took that idea and mashed it up with both a band and a spy theme.  Butch was the lead singer of a band that toured internationally, but were really undercover spies sent out- Mission Impossible style – to thwart bad guys.

In a bit of clever casting, the Monkees’ drummer, Mickey Dolenz, provided vocals for the drummer (a stand-in for Scooby Doo’s Shaggy character.)

Much in the same way that James Bond movies provide wish fulfillment for grown men, this cartoon offered a junior version for young boys. Butch Cassidy had his own plane and sports car. This animated series premise also offered the ideal situation for young boys who may have been starting to be interested in “the fair sex”. Butch was accompanied by two beautiful young women -a stereotypical blonde and a stereotypical “smart and sassy” brunette guitar player.

I don’t think that Mike Gold will ever be playing Butch Cassidy songs on his Weird Sounds Inside the Gold Mind radio show, but they were forgettable fun. I’d wager they  probably would have won a battle of the bands contest against Filmation’s Hardy Boys cartoon songs.

Whew! We’re way off course now, but you probably got the idea. Bendis’ three new Jinxworld series with strong female characters are worth a look-see.

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