Marvel will make sure their A-list writers get the approriate level of artist, or at least the artist they want. Mark Millar seems to get whatever he wants, Bendis too yet DC's treatment of one of, hands down, their best writers on their flagship title gets...this. I think all of the above is what's gettng me really interested in Final Crisis. I've never read any of the other Crisis books and I'm sure it won't matter but at least I'll be able to pore over the art.
Spirit #16 came out and I loved it. I really enjoyed the breezy story, Spirit wondering around a film set, the Spirit splash was great and Paul Smith's art was excellent and less 'on model' than his previous issue. Lee Loughridge's colours are good and its all wrapped up in a Bruce Timm cover. If the last two issues were a little shakey and made you feel Darwyn Cooke took all the good stuff with him, I recommend checking out this issue.
My local comic shop here in BCN gave me some deservingly free comics for Free Comic Book Day which was a nice thought. One nice surprise in there was Hellboy and the Golden Army. An annoying film still cover, which I won't bother scanning, but a really nice story which is a comic ad-ap-ta-tion of the prologue to the second movie. Guillermo Del Toro says in the introduction that this is in the movie but told with puppets. Cool! The art is by Francisco Ruiz Velasco who drew Lone Wolf 2100 and apparently also works on designs for the second Hellboy movie. There's not really any Hellboy in it but Mignola scripts Professor 'Broom' telling the story to Hellboy Jr. All good.
I finished reading Michael "Heroes" Green's Batman:Lovers and Madmen HC collecting the story with Denys Cowan art from Batman Classified. Telling a story from Batman's early years and a new origin for the Joker, it has to be read with some suspension of disbelief; we all know the origin of the Joker ie our established favourite or mixture of various. Jack Napier kills Tom and Martha Wayne and sets his ironic destiny at the hands of Batman. Desperate, unamed, unfunny comic gets knocked into chemicals and comes out nuts and gorgeously drawn by Bolland. Those are my two. One's a film, one's a comic.
This book reads like a film, in a comic and the Joker looks like the pending Heath Ledger version. Like any sensible writer, he keeps Year One in play and the story shows bored/suicidal criminal who gets a a new lease of life after meeting Batman (like a reversal of JM DeMatteis' Going Sane story). Taken on it's own terms, out of DContinuity etc, the pacing's great, the characterisation of Alfred, Bruce, Batman, the Joker is all spot on. Denys Cowan and John FLoyd's art is great, nutty looking cartooning far from any previous published work by them. ILL's colouring is the best I've seen from them but still...Recommended!