The idea of a book written by Paul Dini and starring Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn seems like sheer brilliance. Dini’s work with these characters in the past has been nothing short of excellent, and “Gotham City Sirens” should be a chance for Dini to unleash all the crazy and fun stories ideas he has with these three characters. What we actually get, though, is a major disappointment.
The biggest offender in “Gotham City Sirens” has to be the art. Guillem March’s art is wildly inconsistent, to the point that it’s hard to believe it’s all by a single person. Some of the early pages are the weakest; the appearance of the (ludicrously-named) Boneblaster early in the book looks like it was dashed out at the last second by a fill-in artist. His legs are impossibly the same size around from hip joint to ankle, his face paint is stiff and unreacting, and the shirt itself (with his logo) looks almost like a scribble. It’s actually painful to look at these pages, with stiff, blocky art and drawings that don’t look quite ready for prime-time.
As the book progresses, some pages do look better than others. March must love the character of Harley Quinn because she fares the best here. The panel with her raising up her hammer to attack Boneblaster, for instance, is so much better that it almost seems like a different artist. Harley has a great, sassy expression on her face, and you can almost hear her saying her line because the pose is so good. Of course, on the very next panel I had to look at it several times to figure out exactly what was happening. (I’m still not 100% sure for that matter. Why are there three disembodied limbs hanging from the top of the panel? Did Harley explode like a character made out of Lego?) The strange thing is that I’ve seen better from March in the past. If nothing else, his cover for “Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight” as a huge improvement, so I’m not sure what happened here.
Dini’s script for “Gotham City Sirens” is the stronger of the two halves of #1, but it seems remarkably slow and meandering. Very little actually occurs in this first issue, and I don’t see a hook existing to make people think, “I must read the next issue to find out what happens next.” It’s slightly dull and predictable, and even the bits of the story that should have been fun (like everything the Riddler goes through here) come across as limp when the art doesn’t live up to the script. Maybe with a different artist Dini’s script would feel more punchy, but right now it’s having to do all the heavy lifting.
“Gotham City Sirens” should be the hot new book at DC, but this first issue is almost instantly forgettable. Hopefully future issues will have some pep to them. I want to like this book, but I feel like no one involved is giving it their all.