Sam and Twitch: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Release Date: February 2012
This review is for the actual comic issues collected in this series.
I can only imagine that reading this series when it first came out would have been incredibly frustrating and one I would not have stuck with. The letters pages indicate that the book was always late, with a one year gap occurring between issues 24 and 25. For a mystery series (which is usually my least favorite genre in comics due to the long time between issues) that would have been a deal breaker.
On top of that, the series had a major creative change, going from Brian Michael Bendis and Angel Medina to Bendis and Alex Maleev, to finally writer Todd McFarlane and artist Paul Lee. The most jarring change in in the writing, which went from solid, very Bendis style dialogue to an overwritten McFarlane style that frequently used every available inch of panel space to cram in dialogue. On top of that, the editing appears to have slipped as well at the creative transition, as typos routinely slip through (I noticed a few “you’re” instead of “yours”) and lettering issues where spaces are missing and apostrophe’s dangle away from their words. I’ll probably draw ire for saying this, but I actually prefer the simpler Paul Lee art to either of the prior two guys, and think the best drawn segment of the entire series was the two detectives exploring the killer’s property in issue 26.
The two storylines collected in this volume include a bounty hunter storyline where Twitch’s girlfriend is shot in a random act of bad luck by a visiting bounty hunter and a serial killer who targets Sam and sends him videotapes of all his killings. The first story is fine, though it seemed like an excuse for Bendis to have his Jinx character crossover into this book. The concluding storyline not only completely brushes the ending of the previous arc under the rug and ignores exploring Twitch leaving the force, but then ends up feeling like so many police story cliches strung together. Besides enjoying the art in this final story, I did also appreciate that we finally get a sense of Sam as a human being outside of work. I enjoyed this series overall when read in a few sittings, though the quality was up then down in terms of writing and inconsistent in terms of art.
Sam and Twitch: The Complete Collection
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Release Date: 2006
I bought the complete Sam and Twitch series on ebay about 12 years ago. The idea of a regular detective story set in the world of superheroes sounded cool and original. For whatever reason, I never got around to reading the series until now, well after I found out about books like Astro City (which I love), Gotham City P.D., and the dozens of other books that come out every year about regular people in superhero universes. I also had no idea when I bought it who Brian Michael Bendis was. Bendis is of course one of the giants in the industry now, although one I’ve always found hit (Alias, All New X-Men) and miss (just about everything else).
My main problem with Bendis is that although the dialogue is snappy, it’s often very one note with each character having the same snarky attitude and witticisms. There’s certainly some of that here, but it’s mainly relegated to all of the periphery characters. Sam (the heavy, opportunistic, vulgar one) and Twitch (the more respectful, family oriented, realistic one) have their differences so that it’s usually pretty simple to remember which ones are talking. (Normally remembering isn’t an issue in comics because a big arrow points to who is talking; in this book there are no speech bubbles, instead there are floating dialogue lines with single lines looping back and forth). With new characters or side characters, it reads more like a one note play centered on Bendis’s humor.
The two main story lines in this first volume are about a South African crime family that has cloaked figures with incredible abilities taking over the organized crime in the city, and a murder mystery where the killer is targeting modern witches. There’s also an interesting one shot told in first person from a killer’s point of view fleeing from the police. Both stories were interesting enough that I was happy to keep reading, but neither was as iconic or interesting as something like the Purple Man from Alias.
The tone of this story was also very adult, definitely not something I’d recommend for young readers. (This is especially true if you read the letters pages in the actual comics.) There is also a great one page cameo for Spawn in one of the issues that I looked for as an image online to include with this review but had no luck finding. As far as Bendis goes, this has more of his strengths than his weaknesses on display and I look forward to checking out the rest of the series.