For all their merchandised books and numerous covers, there is something I quite like about Dynamite Comics. As a company, they may vest too much import on the aforementioned variants, although there is an argument to say if no-one wanted them they would stop buying them and companies would stop publishing them. Still, you have to applaud their efforts when it comes to their appreciation of some lesser known but still classic characters.
The Owl was originally a character from Dell Comics, who has had a small number of resurgences. Nick Terry was a police detective who sought to protect his city of Yorktown from the criminals and the lowlife’s. Armed with his own Owl-mobile, black light gun and his trusty sidekick and partner Owl Girl, he survived until getting trapped in the Urn of Pandora. Now the Urn lies broken and 50 years have passed, yet on criminals the black light of the Owl’s form of justice still shines.
Comic veteran J.T. Krul has crafted a tale which seems a tad anachronistic. The Owl has a Captain America style out of time about him, coupled with Justice Society of America morals and ideology. It’s this juxtaposition that kept me reading. True, I love the old All Star books and this collection of the 2013 four-issue mini series certainly captures that vibe. For the most part, Krul has Terry doubt his presence in this new time. Yet the strength of a hero is in part the ability to drive forward when all seems lost. With that in mind, whilst there is pathos to be found in the pages and panels, it is not the sort of angst that becomes tiresome. Krul introduces a new Owl Girl, the granddaughter of the original Owl Girl. This Owl Girl is a product of her time as much as Terry is of his. This Owl Girl revels in the violence and the chaos she causes in her own way on crime, with a cost being paid by someone. Think AzBats versus Batman. As for the dialogue, the book reads well, though it is fair to say, its written in a simple and earnest way.
Heubert Khan Michael is the artist on hand to chronicle the Owl’s new adventures. Michael takes a different tack with some parts of the book. As Terry reminisces, the art morphs into a very simple style, that throughout the book is a welcome diversion to the regular art and it brought a smile to my face for its almost heartfelt rendition of comics long gone. On the main story, the art is functionary with some good panel and frame-work mixed in with some that would be better served with stronger lines and more detail. There are a number of splash pages, featuring various characters and like the main art, some work and some tend to have the look of over-cooked art, as if Michael has tried to hard. For example, there is a splash were the Owl crashes into the backs of a couple of goons; great action scene lots f dynamism on show. In comparison, the first of the new Owl Girl suffers from perspective problems, especially as you move towards the bottom of the page. If an artist has trouble drawing certain body parts, then surely camera angles can be used to emphasise the stronger elements whilst minimising the weaker parts. Dynamite Comics tend to have strong colors, so I have to say I was surprised by Vinicius Andrade scheme which is a little too “four-color” in places. The collection collects the various covers; as you’d expect the Alex Ross ones are headand shoulders above the rest.
As a trip down memory lane, both in writing and character, this book works extremely well. As a comparison to today’s comics, I fear that the glitz and recognition of more media savvy heroes may have their day over the unfussy, almost uncomplicated Owl from yesteryear.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 3.5 Stars