Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tumbling Dominos

So I've been reading Moonstone Comics Domino Lady series. In case you know don't know what Moonstone Comics is, this independent comic company primarily licences the adventure of pulp era or similarly vintage superheroes like the Phantom or the Black Bat. In other words, they're like Dynamite Comics with generally lower production values.  (Characters Dynamite has published include --- the Phantom and the Black Bat.)

The Domino Lady remains a relatively obscure pulp heroine. The premise is that the Domino Lady is secretly Ellen Prentiss, a socialite whose father was a businessman murdered by rivals. Out to get revenge, Ellen Prentiss becomes the Domino Lady, a thief who robs corrupt rich men, often putting a stop to their crooked plans in the process.

---And if they left it at that, she would be a generic costumed heroine. But the Domino Lady takes it a step further. Like many a hero before her, she has a special gimmick to distinguish her from her competition. Her modus operandi is to seduce men into bed and when they're naked, drugging them with a syringe filled with "knockout drops."(Thus making the Domino Lady the only superhero who fights crime with the power of roofies). I don't know if this element was present in the original pulps but given that she appeared in Saucy Romantic Adventures, hich according to Wikipedia was targeted at more "Adult" audience, I'm guessing yes. As for the comic itself, it's --- well, I believe the word is terrible. Domino Lady narrates the stories in an overwrought pulp pastiche voice with incredibly purple prose.  I get that it's trying to sound like a hard boiled-crime story but it doesn't ring true.  Instead, it sound like what someone who read a bunch of mystery novels think that those characters sounded like. As a result, the character does not sound tough, but as someone who is trying to sound tough. In addition, the art pretty much sabotages the storytelling at every turn. One story derives it's narrative weight from Domino Lady killing a man for the first time. You know what would have made that work. Some visual indicator  that Domino Lady had killed the man. Instead, the decision to convey this information entirely through narration on  the last page of the story robs this moment of any dramatic impact. (Another issue has Domino Lady doing a homage to Batman. You know, the one where Commissioner Gordon looks away from Batman while he's talking to him and turns around to find that Batmans already left. In this comic, a similar scene occurs on a stretch of flat coastline directly leading into a large body of water. Which means, that the only way the Domino Lady could have vanished so quickly without the policeman seeing is if she is literally jumped into the water and is holding her breath. Which seems like an extreme length to how to just to make a police officer feel like an asshole.)

Also, just a bit of advice, if you're shooting for a gritty crime noir fell, don't have Sherlock Homes show up for absolutely no reason. It just doesn't work for the tone you're trying to set for the same reason it would be weird to have James Bond show up in a George Smiley story. Just because two characters share a genre doesn't mean that they can appear in the same type of story without a few eyebrows being raised.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Usless Bits of Genius: A follow up to the previous post

By the people who brought us "Building a Human"

The correct answer, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, is that Imhotep is invisible.