Thursday, January 20, 2005


Sam Kieth, 99% of the time, can do no wrong by me. His truly unique artistic style and unusually odd storytelling can hardly be matched by any other artist/writer in the medium. Any time a new Kieth project is announced or comes out, I'm intrigued. When Scratch was first solicited, I couldn't wait for it to come out. Kieth writing and drawing a tale about a boy werewolf in a small village--cool. Appearance by Batman--not as cool, but still might be ok. Listed in the Batman section of Previews--really not cool. No matter, though, as it was a Kieth 5 issue mini, and I would be onboard even if they solicited it in the Johnny DC section. Side note, attaching Sam Kieth to a Johnny DC title would be pretty sweet. I can't even begin to imagine his take on the Powerpuff Girls!

So I wait until I have all five issues on hand before I dive in. It opens with a narrative from Batman, which is completely unneccesary, but a few pages later the reals story shows up. A boy develops the powers of a werewolf and fearing it will ruin his relationship with his family, he runs away. He is eventually found by a trio of other freaks and moves in with them.

As time passes, a plot about a missing girl takes center stage while subplots concerning Scratch's relationship with Sage and the discovery of an underground cave full of deformed children also develop. Eventually, the story reaches its climax in the closing of the fourth issue where it appears Scratch will have to fight a group of villagers intent upon killing him and the other freaks... that is until issue five opens and Batman suddenly reappears and tries to talk some sense into the villagers. When that doesn't work, Batman & Scratch are forced to fight the villagers while the other freaks run away. Scratch also runs away in the end and you're left with Batman pontificating over whether Scratch and the freaks will be heard from again.

The ending felt horrible contorted and the addition of Batman took away all of the steam the story had gathered in the first four issues. The resolution also felt forced and rushed. There were also some other things throughout the series that made the story seem like it was a rush job, or like there was very little oversight. In one scene the freaks find a pair of shoes that belong to a missing child. Zack comments something like, "Look--it's one of the girl's shoes, I wonder where the other one is?" There are obviously two shoes there, but the story needed to have one of the villagers hiding one of the two shoes later on, so this scene was laughable in how the art was completely different than what the dialogue said it was.

Anyhow, the story was very lackluster, felt very rushed, and didn't seem very well thought out. The art, on the other hand, is classic distorted Kieth and I loved every panel of every page. The art, even when it didn't match what the story called for, was a treat for my eyes and helped me to justify spending my hard earned money on this. Kieth fans, pick this up. Anyone else, just let it fade away into the realm of unneeded and unneccesary miniseries.

Art: 4.75
Story: 2
Overall: 3.5

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