“I’m Just Warming Up”
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann
Being that this is the first issue of a mini-series, there’s not really a “story so far” to speak of, so I’m just going to jump right into the summary and review.
Harley Quinn and Booster Gold eat apple pie in a diner as Superman streaks overhead. They talk a bit and Harley attacks Booster with a knife, and a fight ensues. Inter-cut with this fight, we see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman investigating a disturbance at the Sanctuary, a home for super-powered individuals who have mental health issues of one sort or another. Like Blue Jay, who can’t control his shrinking ability, or Arsenal, who is an addict. Turns out someone has killed all the metahumans at the Sanctuary, including Arsenal and Flash, along with the Sanctuary itself, which is not just the farmhouse in which the treatment was being offered, but a robot built with Kryptonian tech and given the will of Batman, the compassion of Wonder Woman and the honor of Superman. The Trinity finds the Sanctuary with a message written above it: “The Puddlers are all dead”. Diana explains that a puddler was one who works in iron, skimming the molten metal to remove impurities and make the iron strong. Bruce surmises that someone who was being treated at Sanctuary did the killing.
During Harley and Booster’s fight, which goes on the whole issue, intercut with scenes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman finding corpses of dead heroes, Booster implies that Harley murdered all the heroes at Sanctuary. Harley tells Booster that he, actually, is responsible.
The issue ends on a creepy “talking head” scene of an obviously troubled Booster Gold being interviewed by the Sanctuary, and asking for help.
Tom King is not a writer with whom I am very familiar, having only read his amazing Vision series for Marvel, but after reading that series, I had wanted to read more from him. I was going to go back and read his run on Batman, but when this series was announced, I decided to wait for it. The story is amazing. The plotting, the inter-cut with Harley and Booster’s fight and the Trinity’s investigation, and even the talking head moments, are masterfully manipulated. Tom King does not disappoint.
The art is also amazing. I can’t say that I recall having read anything with Clay Mann’s art before, but it’s a breath of fresh air. So many artists today seem to lack definition, but Mann’s art is very detailed. He reminds me of Greg Land, but—dare I say it?—better. More dynamic. Which is not to say that Greg Land’s are is bad. Quite the contrary, actually. Mann’s work seems better suited for sequential art, and Land seems at his best on covers and splash pages.
The depth of the story is incredible, as well. On my second readthrough, I noticed little hints and intricacies in the artwork that I didn’t see the first time through. Re-readability is high on this issue.
What doesn’t work:
Not much. It’s a little confusing about who—or what—Sanctuary is. This may be a known quantity to others, but as someone who hasn’t read DC monthlies since the mid-2000’s I felt a little lost. But it all comes together in the end. Such is the peril of coming back to a universe that is unfamiliar after 10-15 years of continuity.
One thing’s for sure, I’m going to go back and pick up King’s run on Batman for sure, now.