Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: In Custody
Written by: Judd Winick
Pencilled by: Phil Hester
Inked by: Ande Parks
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Editor: Bob Schreck
Publisher: DC Comics
Let’s just get this out of the way, okay? Yes, this is the issue where Mia gets diagnosed with HIV. It is a moment that appropriately blindsides the reader at the close of the book. The perfect type of ending NOT to spoil in a review. So why am I doing just that? Because EVERY OTHER FRIGGIN’ comic website already has! Plus, the Associated Press before them! And they put it in the headline more often than not! I think we were the only site not to trumpet it the day the book was released; we showed enough restraint to wait until Saturday’s Roundtable to discuss it. So go us for being all classy and spoiler free and such. By now, however, realistically, you all already know about it and that is why you are reading this review. So, to summarize: Mia has HIV, the moment was well done and would have been a shock if every major comic news outlet had not spoiled it for you, the reader.
The thing is there is a whole lot of story going on here that has nothing to do with HIV at all. So now that the whole disease angle is out of the way, maybe we can get to that. Sound good?
Just to start from the cover and work inward, I noticed a little something odd here. You see, the Mayor and the DA were killed last issue by a suicide bomber. Thus, Star City has a new acting Mayor, a woman by the name of Karen Woodruff. To prove his point that he owns the city now, Brick has kidnapped Woodruff’s daughter. It is this daughter who is depicted on the cover of this issue being thrust into the air. Woodruff happens to be black. The daughter on the cover appears to be white. Odd, no? However, in the spirit of giving DC the benefit of the doubt, let me submit the following simple explanation. Woodruff adopted her daughter. There you go. Do I get a No-Prize…err…a Baldy…err…DAMN YOU DC FOR NOT HAVING A GA SPECIFIC AWARD FOR SPOTTING AND EXPLAINING MISTAKES!
Any GA review would be remiss if it failed to mention the level of quality Hester and Parks are producing on a month to month basis. The book has been around for 43 issues and, I believe, they have only sat 3 of those (the Connor-Roy bonding issue, the Arrowcar issue, and the Black Circle catastrophe). Impressive by today’s standards, certainly, and adding in how great each issue has been only serves to increase that fact. Their work on Brick is impressive, never failing to show his monstrousness, and yet always conveying that he, in fact, a very human sort of monster. Even without a large action set piece to play with this issue, the duo keeps the story moving well throughout.
Storywise, the best news is that Winick finally made me see the big deal about Brick. I got that he was a gang leader turned mob boss and was trying to take advantage of the power void in Star City. What I didn’t really get was why that made him so unique or dangerous, in the context of the DC Universe. Now, however, between the suicide bombing last issue and his elaborate show of power this issue, I feel like I finally have a handle of him. I won’t give away what he does to prove his strangle hold on the city (because, somehow, that hasn’t been spoiled yet), but it is a wicked little trick that effectively cuts off the Mayor and the police department at the knees and embarrasses Ollie and Connor in the process.