12th Feb2020

‘DC’s Crimes of Passion: 80 Page Giant’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

dcs-crimes-passion-cover

When you have read as many comics down the years as me, literally in the tens of thousands, you’ve pretty much seen it all. Quirky indie books? Check. Blockbuster multi-title crossovers? Check. Inter-company books? Check. Monthly books published on time? Che….er, well I’ve nearly seen it all. Point is, when you see something a little different it does tend to catch your eye. DC’s Crimes of Passion, echoing those old lurid EC Comics books, certainly caught my eye. Essentially, it’s DC’s attempt at a Valentine’s Day Special, and why not. Actually, it is ten attempts at telling a decent Valentine’s Day story, as there are ten short stories in total, all with different characters and creative teams. Will we get lucky this Valentine’s? Let’s take a look.

Obviously 80 pages and 10 stories is a lot to digest, so I’ll speed review them and then give a little indication at the end of the winners (if any) and the losers (again, if any). We kick off with the headliner, Batman, in ‘More than Maybe’, by Steve Orlando and Greg Smallwood, a gorgeously drawn retro style story set in Bruce’s early years, when even he had to make the choice between love or the job. It has echoes of those old romance books, and some great characterization by Orlando. Great start. Next up is Wildcat in ‘Pulling Punches’, by Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo, which is an ok story about right and wrong decisions, and the pride that goes with choices. Average. The Pied Piper stars in tale number three, in ‘Secret Admirer’, by Johns, Tynion IV and Melnikov. The Piper discovers that not everyone wants him to be successfully rehabilitated, and that to some a villain can be a hero. Not a love story as such, but about love for the past. Subtly told, a nice story that gives Piper depth and personality.

Now you couldn’t have a DC romance special without Green Arrow and Black Canary could you? Those two have been shacked up, broke up, married, separated, cheated on each other, back together , then rinse and repeat you name it, they’ve done it. ‘The Crimson Bomber’, by Phillip Kennedy, Paul Fry and Mark Framer sees Dinah and Ollie taking on a criminal in a story that showcases the bad side of love, the destructive side. It’s a slight story that could have had much more depth, but decent enough. Next up is Plastic Man in ‘The Prettiest Thing’, by Sina Grace and Mike Norton, which manages to combine the trademark Plastic Man humour with a little emotional depth as Plas comes to terms with his past life as a criminal, and inspires someone else along the way. Fun story, this one.

Story six, and we check in with Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer in ‘Our of the Past’, by Jordan Clark and Kieran McKeown. It’s a pretty conventional story about helping others, love for friends, but tries to cram too much story in too few pages and too many panels. Next up is Slam Bradley in ‘One Last Dance’, by Mat Groom and Anthony Spay, a real old school Private Eye adventure. Batman has a little cameo but Bradley and classy thief Nightjar steal the tale with great dialogue and a little fisticuffs. Loved this one, really oozed class. As other Bat family characters have already had their spotlight, you just knew Nghtwing would get his, and he brings Batgirl with him in ‘Knightfalls in Bludhaven’, by Jay Baruchel and Andie Tong. Another story crammed with cameos galore, but one that handles everything without feeling too busy. That being said, it was glossy but lacked much depth.

Two stories left, the first featuring Catwoman in ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, by Liz Erickson and Abel. I like the characterization of Selina in this one, at her best when orchestrating a heist with a gallon tank worth of sass. Her inner monologue is the star in this one, with some very nice art too. We close out with an odd character for a Valentine’s themes book, The Question, in ‘Reflections of the Heart’, by Ram V and John Paul Leon. Actually not that odd when you think about it, crime noir and femme fatales has long been a staple of the genre. The art is gorgeous, having that Vertigo feel to it that is perfect for the story, and we see a good old fashioned hardboiled detective story that doesn’t end well for someone. Great writing and art to finish out the book.

An eclectic mix for sure, but one that overall works and makes you wish that DC put this much effort into all their specials. For me, the pick of the bunch were the Batman opener, the Slam Bradley tale, and The Question story, all with solid story and art that really worked.

Make this your Valentine’s gift to yourself this year. Go on, treat yourshelf. Ahem.

**** 4/5

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