Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Pulp Culture
Comic book version of
'CSI' will please fans

February 27, 2003
By Franklin Harris

The advertisements remind us that "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" is the most popular drama on television. So, it was more or less inevitable that "CSI" would spawn a comic-book adaptation. Luckily, IDW Publishing's four-color version of the hit series is pretty good.

CSI No. 1Give the upstart publisher credit for bringing in big-name talent. Max Allan Collins, whose "Road to Perdition" is now an Oscar-nominated motion picture, handles the storytelling chores, assisted by penciller/inker Gabriel Rodríguez and painter Ashley Wood ("Automatic Kafka").

The most difficult task for anyone trying to adapt a movie or TV series is to capture the look and feel of the original. Fail at that, and you can forget the rest.

Rodríguez's characters appear a bit wooden at times, but they undeniably look like their television counterparts. Meanwhile, Wood's paintings, interspersed throughout the story, don't try to replicate the computer-generated reenactments that have become the TV series' visual trademark, but they do give the comic its own distinctive take on the idea.

Oddly, the weak link is Collins' story.

He has the details down pat, but for this five-issue story, Collins pits the Las Vegas CSI team against the most cliched of serial killers, a modern-day Jack the Ripper.

Now, I'm a casual Ripper enthusiast, but even I think its time to give the Ripper copycat plot a rest.

Still, fans of the TV series — and they are legion — should be pleased.

Next, we have "The Crossovers," an engaging series from CrossGen Comics' Code 6 imprint, which features stories set outside the CrossGen Universe.

Writer Robert Rodi ("Codename: Knockout") gives us a high concept tale. The Crossovers seem to be a typical suburban family, but in reality each is hiding a fantastic secret from the rest of the household.

Dad is really a superhero named The Archetype. Mom is a third-generation vampire slayer. Sis occasionally journeys to another dimension, where she lives as a warrior princess. And little brother Cliff is a UFO abductee who is helping his alien friends take over the planet.

As for Cubby, the family dog, he may know more than he lets on.

But the Crossovers' carefully segregated lives are in danger of exposure, starting with Dad's, now that his archenemy has learned The Archetype's civilian identity.

Better known as a novelist, Rodi is familiar enough with sci-fi, fantasy and superhero conventions to satirize them well. One of his novels, "What They Did to Princess Paragon," is a hilarious send-up of the comic-book scene and revolves around a Wonder Woman-like character who comes out as a lesbian.

"The Crossovers" features art by penciller Mauicet and inker Ernie Colon.

Sleeper"Sleeper," the new comic book by writer Ed Brubaker ("Detective Comics") and artist Sean Phillips, is just that — a sleeper. It's one of the best genre comics no one is reading.

One problem may be that it is set in the Wildstorm Universe and carries over continuity from titles like "Wildcats" and "Gen 13." But you don't need to know anything about the glory days of the Wildstorm U. to appreciate "Sleeper."

Holden Carver has a useful inability: He cannot feel pain. And whatever punishment he takes, up to a point, he can turn back on his attackers. Officially, he is an enforcer in a criminal organization led by a superpowered psycho named Tao. Unofficially, except to those who need to know, he is a sleeper agent, a government operative sent to infiltrate Tao's group and bring it down.

Problem is, the one guy who needed to know is in a coma, and now Holden is on his own. So, how far will he go to stay alive without abandoning his mission? And is his mission worth continuing?

With luck, this title will find an audience and hang around long enough for us to find out.

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