"Gotham's" Azrael Will Be 'Different Than Anything We've Seen in Comics,' Says EP
Enough time has passed since the release of Phantom Lady, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Cat Staggs, that I wasn’t sure I should still write about it as part of the Women of Action series. However, think it continues to be worth thinking about for a couple of reasons: First, despite it being a miniseries from last autumn, it’s part of a continuing event that’s still playing out in the DC Universe (namely, the gradual introduction of the New 52 Freedom Fighters). Second, it’s pretty good. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
I have fond memories of a couple of Freedom Fighter comics (or possibly, appearances of the team in other people’s comics) as a kid, but I don’t know a lot about the group and didn’t read the most recent series before DC shut it down to make way for Flashpoint and the New 52. I’m familiar with Phantom Lady mostly through the character’s affiliation with Matt Baker, one of my favorite artists, and I know about Doll Man (who gets his name on the cover, if not in the official indicia), primarily thanks to Craig Yoe’s old Doll Man Monday feature on the Super I.T.C.H. website. In other words, I needed an introduction.
Rather than just launch a New 52 Freedom Fighters series, DC is doing something different and fun. It’s introducing each character in a separate miniseries, teasing the formation of a team. There’s been no promise of an eventual Freedom Fighters comic as far as I’m aware, but the appearance of Homeland Security (accompanied by The Ray) with a job offer at the end of Phantom Lady makes it obvious that that’s what they’re hoping to build toward. It’s a little like the movie Avengers, but also like the first year of John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, a unique approach to a team comic that I’ve always wanted to see tried again.
I don’t know if the tactic will be successful enough to lead to an ongoing Freedom Fighters comic, but I hope it is, because I like the new Phantom Lady and Doll Man. They took some warming up to, especially Dane (Doll Man), who comes across at first as the “nice guy” in love with the beautiful woman, biding his time until she finally comes to his senses and falls for him too. It soon becomes apparent, though, that his and Jen’s (Phantom Lady) friendship is more complicated than that. And more mature. Dane is in love with Jen, but he doesn’t keep it a secret, and they’ve already been sleeping together by the time the story begins. It’s just that Dane’s a lot deeper in with his feelings than Jen, with no guarantee that she’ll ever reciprocate. That makes things difficult, but it never gets in the way of their actually acting like friends. Staggs does an excellent job communicating the humor and camaraderie in the relationship and I want to see more, even if Jen and Dane have to share time with the other Freedom Fighter characters in the process.
I’m curious to hear from folks who’ve read the other mini-series in this experiment, The Ray or the recently begun Human Bomb. Have those also been good? Which Freedom Fighters character(s) are you most excited about in the New 52?