Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Letterer: Joshua Reed
Review by Benjamin Thomas
I was over the moon when I heard that Brian Michael Bendis was moving to DC Comics after his long tenure at Marvel. When Brian brings his A-game, he’s one of my favorites writers. My mind was spinning at the prospect of a Bendis Batman story, and I couldn’t wait to see what original characters we might get from the creator of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones.
Instead we got the fantastic new story arc playing out currently in Superman and Action Comics. While it wasn’t the Batman book I hoped for, his tweaking of Superman Lore has been nothing short of stellar. With Pearl we are getting an original book from Bendis and Alias co-creator Michael Gaydos. Somehow this book stayed off my radar until just this week. In fact, I chose to review this book based solely on the fantastic cover art and was so excited when I realized what I was getting.
Unfortunately, the first original creation of Bendis for DC comics didn’t live up to my internal hype. Although, maybe the level of hype I created may have been unrealistic, and probably hurt my enjoyment of the book.
Let’s dive in. The art in this book is somewhat uneven. The settings look amazing and the action panels are drawn in a cool, kinetic style. However I found, specifically the faces, to be a bit off-putting and not drawn very well. With that being said, the colors are incredibly beautiful and all of the tattoos in the book look fantastic.
The story unfortunately is equally as uneven. Our protagonist is a tattoo artist who finds herself accidentally drawn into the Yakuza. It’s a promising premise, but our main character is not terribly endearing and I didn’t feel like we got enough of the other characters to form any attachments to anyone. The amount of character work and actual story in this first issue was fairly sparse. The couple of scenes with her apparent mentors, Mr. Kai and Mr. Mike, as well as the scene with her father, were intriguing though and offered some promise as to actual character development.
This is not a bad book by any means. It’s beautiful in parts, and has an interesting and unique premise. I’m distinctly intrigued by character templates that haven’t been heavily featured in mainstream comics, namely tattoo artists and the dynamics of the Yakuza. I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing what Bendis can bring us in this series, and I’m crossing my fingers that it’s just a slow start.
I’m going to give this book a few more issues because well, it’s Bendis and Gaydos. I’ve loved Jessica Jones since the beginning of Alias and while this book didn’t hit me in the same way, I definitely feel like there is some promise here. If you’re a fan of Bendis and Gaydos, this is absolutely worth picking up.
P.S. – There is a Brian Michael Bendis Batman story included at the back of this book for free. It was written before his tenure at Marvel and gives me even more hope for an eventual Dark Knight run from Bendis.