SOLO #10: Damion Scott Review
Come on, admit it, when you heard Damion Scott was doing a SOLO, you were a bit worried too, weren’t you? On the one hand, especially with the announcement of SOLO’s cancellation (I guess it was just too awesome of a concept for DC to continue with, and they’d prefer to publicize stuff like Dan Didio’s notes to Geoff on Infinite Crisis “Pages 16-17 – More casualties? Works for me” than to publicize one of the best books the company has, but que sera, sera), it was a shame to miss out on the total legendary artists who were scheduled to appear in the book in favor of a newer artist like Scott, and on the other hand, Scott’s last few issues of Robin weren’t just “not that good,” they were downright awful, appearing less like “trying something new artistically” and more like “barely trying” to the point where the news of Scott McDaniel taking over Robin’s art chores was the equivalent of hearing that Dave Gibbons was now going to be drawing Lady Death. Then there was the above cover, which didn't seem like this was going to be much of an improvement. So I can tell you, with a great deal of relief, that Mark Chiarello obviously is much smarter than I am, as his choice of Scott looks like a brilliant move, as the artwork by Scott in the issue is exemplary.
Sadly, the stories are mostly terrible.
However, a book like SOLO is there for the art, really, especially for a young artist like Scott (only 30 years old) who has never written a comic for DC before, so his stories (co-written with someone named Randee Carcano, except for the first tale, written by someone named Rob Markham) should not exactly have people’s expectations that high.
As for the art, in an intro piece, Scott explains, “Graffiti art is a major influence in my work. It speaks for my culture and is the style that most naturally flows through me. Throughout this book I’ve designed compositions that are my attempt to bring the “wylde style” to comic art.” Well, I believe Scott succeeds beatifullay at doing just that, filling the comic book to the brim with comic art in the style of graffiti. It is interesting and it is innovative, and this is just the sort of project that SOLO works so well with – letting innovative artists cut loose and do whatever they want.
The first story is a Flash one, evoking a bit of the Black Flash storyline by Mark Millar and Pop Mhan (as Mhan is probably the closest artist I can think of to Scott’s graffiti style), especially since, well, the Black Flash is in it. Each page of the story, while telling the story, is laid out like a mural, with no space on the page not being used fully for the art. The story, though, is extremely pedestrian. It is like a filler issue of Flash.
The highlight of the issue to me is the “Superman Is…” section. Scott draws eight pin-ups, each exemplifying a word Scott (and his “co-writer” Carcano…which is actually kinda creepy – he needed another person to help him come up with words that began with S, U, P, E, R, M, A and N?) thinks describes Superman. I wasn’t exactly impressed with the eight words they came up with, but the drawings – WOW. Earlier in the issue, Scott wrote about “Wildstyle” letters, which is writing in a very ornate way, to the point where it is difficult to read the words. Scott feels that it is worth it, as it forces the reader to take a close look at the art. The words for the “Superman Is” piece are all in “Wildstyle,” and it is extremely effective, especially Metropolis.
The third story is a piece where Scott goes back to the more generic style of art he used when he was drawing Batgirl. I was a big fan of that art style, and I was disappointed when he got further and further away from that style, but I see now that it was definitely holding him back. Still, it’s nice to see him draw in that style again (he used the same style when he took over Robin, until he dropped the style, and got really ugly looking), if even for a short story. Scott’s care for the character of Batgirl (as well as the female Robin, Stephanie Brown, who co-stars in the tale) is strong. The story, though, is not. Still, not a bad story. Just another pedestrian effort.
The final tale is a future story of Tim Drake as Batman and Cassandra Cain as a grown-up Batgirl, who work together to fill in the gap left by the original Batman. They are also romantically linked. Scott goes back to his graffiti style, and it works quite well. The story, other than the nice idea of needing TWO people to fill Batman’s shoes completely, is decent, but not great.
All in all, just on the great strength of his innovative work, which I think is a hallmark of the SOLO project, I will recommend this issue with reservation. The reservation is, of course, that the stories inside aren’t all that good. Still, some impressive artwork, which I was not expecting.