By: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti (story), Sanford Greene (art), Randy Mayor (colors)
The Story: Not your typical girls’ night out, but you do have some smack-talking here.
The Review: I praised Legends of the Dark Knight #2 as a great showing from DC’s digital offerings (which transferred just as well—I presume—onto paper), but I’m afraid not everything that’s come from their virtual vaults has been as impressive. Ame-Comi Girls is something that probably sounded great in the pitch meeting, but when it comes to the actual delivery, it’s been mostly a very, very mixed bag.
For one, I still don’t really understand what makes the series anything like anime. I speak true; I grew up on the stuff, far more than I did American comics, and nothing about either this issue or the one featuring Wonder Woman do I get the same kind of vibe I’ve ever had reading, say, Love Hina, Air Gear, or Fairy Tail. Somehow, the kind of material Gray-Palmiotti have been delivering feels too little and too much for the style they’re shooting for.
The cutesiness is all there, sort of, though colored with an American edge. Gray-Palmiotti replace the pouty pettiness of the usual Japanese schoolgirl character with a cattier, mean-girls sort of manner. The opening lines set the general tone of the rest of the issue. Barbara Gordon, in reference to presumably one of their classmates, asks her cousin, “Why don’t you like her?”
Carrie, AKA the Ame-Comi Robin, replies, “Because Tiffany is a social disease. She thinks she’s special just because she fits the mold of what modern society thinks is attractive.”
This kind of adolescent nonsense infects almost every part of the issue, almost like the worst aspects of Gray-Palmiotti’s writing taken to a new degree of juvenile annoyingness. The humor, if you can call it that, consists mainly of immature put-downs and face-slapping witticisms. Batgirl taunts an attacking Poison Ivy’s outfit, “And what are you wearing? A salad?”
“You wish you looked this good in foliage.”
“Seriously? You look like a slutty, six foot green bean!”
Even assuming you can get on board with the lame jokes, other problems abound. There’s little character development, if any. Although each of the Gotham girls—Babs, Ivy, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Duela Dent—follow their traditional character outlines, Gray-Palmiotti do little to make them more rounded, interesting, or even different from their counterparts in the DCU proper. They’re what you expect from those characters, only more simple-minded.
There also seems to be no point or direction to the plot of this issue or the overarching series. The ladies launch into battle almost immediately, with little fanfare or cause, and the only real motivation given is the vaguely alluded “rivalries” among them. What Batgirl sees in Duela’s lair obviously points to a connection with Wonder Woman and all the upcoming Ame-Comi girls, but you’ve no idea what that connection is, and Gray-Palmiotti give you no reason to care.
About the only feature of this issue that lives up to its name is Greene’s art, which actually evokes the anime spirit with its sleek, angular lines, the pert, doe-eyed faces and figures of the girls, and their lively, hyperactive motion and posture in action. Mayor’s colors are no less appropriate for what the series is ostensibly going for—the hues are sharp, highly saturated, a Candyland palette that makes Gotham look actually kind of cheery.
Conclusion: Points for some great art which actually works for an American-made manga, but which should be put to use on a much better script.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Ivy’s bizarre beef with young, naïve lovers almost feels like the vendetta of a Golden Age villain.
– You only get a glimpse of Power Girl from Duela’s monitors, but even from that, you can see that her honkers are out of control. It just looks unhealthy, if you ask me.