Thanks, I had to get that out of my system.
Let’s talk about Solo, the bi-monthly anthology series from DC Comics that showcases the talents of one selected artist, who produces all-new material using pretty much any character in the vast DC Universe. The DC editors made really interesting choices for the series, with issues done by Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, and Howard Chaykin, among others. Apparently, any character or technique is fair game for Solo creators. Why, you could do a series of three-paneled haiku interpretations starring Solomon Grundy, all in soft pastels if you wanted to.
Squirrel in a tree, so close
But Grundy’s too slow
This particular issue, Solo #5 is the Darwyn Cooke issue, which means Pow! It’s gonna knock you on yer keister with it’s radness!
Cooke is the writer/artist of the Eisner-winning New Frontier and a swingin’ run on the Catwoman series. He also may be a time traveler from the year 1958, I’m not entirely sure. Cooke certainly has an affinity for the go-go 50’s and hep early 60’s, and it shows in his vibrant work and his use of characters like private eye Slam Bradley and The Question.
Solo #5 has a Slam Bradley framing device that sets up the stories and bits in the comic. Slam is killing time in a bar downtown, waiting for a certain dame to come through the door, regaling the bartender with different tales.
The book is packed full of goodness. There are pin-ups, short gags, a noir story of betrayal, a luminous remembrance of Cooke’s own childhood discovery of art, and a brilliant “cover” of a classic Batman story. There’s even a variety page full of short strips, jokes, and puzzles, such as the Amazo Maze here:
Cooke’s art has a distinctive, recognizable style, yet he has a broad enough range that he can change the art to match the subject matter or mood at hand. Cooke’s work is suffused with a childlike sense of joy and wonder – and I mean that in a good way. His coloring is pretty, too.
Solo #5 – further proof that Darwyn Cooke is The Cat’s Ass.